Iran ignores U.S. pleas not to make nuclear fuel, the United States lacks
support from China in the U.N. Security Council to punish Iran, a State
Department official said Thursday. China, which has a veto on the Security
Council, has growing economic ties with Iran.
U.S. doesn't have needed support in U.N. to punish Iran, official says
and remember this from CNN in 2000 (!)
Pentagon fears Russia, China helping Iran build ballistic missile
July 19, 2000
Pentagon officials have expressed serious concern that Russia and China are helping Iran in its development of longer-range, ballistic missiles.
Their reaction follows a successful test launch Saturday by Iran of the Shahab-3 missile.
All this dicking around is making me nervous. There is an axiz of evil and the situation is fluid. Time is not on our side.
Jack Wheeler 's To the Point hosts guest author Ariel Cohen who writes precisely and brilliantly of where America a is and should be on the War on Muslim Terror. I am running it all, it is that important (footnotes too) and if Jack gets mad at me, I look forward to the tussle.......
NIGHTMARE: Terrorists Attacking America with Russian Nukes
By Ariel Cohen
Ever since the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001, Americans have been lucky that there have not been more atrocities on U.S. soil. However, the enemy, while weakened, is far from destroyed. Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri continue to issue threats against America from their hideouts. Their strength and support base, while diminished, is not eliminated.
Other terrorist organizations inspired by radical Islamist ideology are still at large in Europe, the Middle East, the Caucasus, Central Asia, the Indian subcontinent, Southeast Asia, and presumably in the Americas. Some of them are willing to use weapons of mass destruction (WMD) to bring America down.
Recent reports about intelligence failures before 9/11 and the Iraq war indicate that there are numerous issues regarding U.S. strategic adversaries that the intelligence community did not handle adequately. Under the new leadership of Directors John Negroponte and Porter Goss, the intelligence community must address these issues with the innovation and creativity that the issues deserve.
Court proceedings and intelligence debriefings have indicated that al-Qaeda and other terrorist organizations planned their operations for up to six years before execution. Several attacks using chemical weapons in Great Britain, France, and Jordan were disrupted just before execution. The current hiatus in attacks against the U.S. homeland may be caused by preparation for massive attacks, possibly involving weapons of mass destruction.
Al-Qaeda is an organization that is religiously and ideologically committed to the destruction of the United States and Israel, the subjugation of the West, and the overthrow of existing Moslem and Arab regimes throughout the Greater Middle East and beyond -- from Nigeria to Saudi Arabia to Indonesia. Its proclaimed goal is establishment of a Califate (Khilafa) -- a militarized dictatorship based on the Shari'a (holy law) dedicated to conquest of the non-Moslem world (Dar al-Harb, literally "Land of the Sword").
Osama bin Laden called using weapons of mass destruction against the U.S. a "religious duty." He also declared that undermining America's economic power is his strategic objective. Bin Laden portrays himself as a pious Moslem who protects and defends other Moslems and wages a jihad (holy war) in their name.(1)
In 2003, Sheikh Nasir bin Hamid al-Fahd, a prominent Saudi cleric close to al-Qaeda, provided a comprehensive religious opinion (fatwa) justifying the use of nuclear weapons against the United States, even it killed up to 10 million Americans, under the pretext that the U.S. is to blame for the deaths of 10 million Moslems.(2)
There should be little doubt that Al Qaeda terrorists are:
Willing to inflict massive American casualties
Capable of doing so despite the technical difficulties of executing such an attack;
Capable of either stealing or building a nuclear bomb;
Capable of either stealing or purchasing nuclear materials to construct RDDs, radiation dispersion devices or “dirty bombs” powered by conventional explosives;
The Russian Problem
As sources of unsecured nuclear weapons and material, Russia and the other former Soviet republics remain major proliferation concerns for a number of reasons.
First, the Soviet Union was an empire with a strong external perimeter and weak internal safeguards. While the Soviet regime tightly controlled everything that moved across its borders until the late 1980s, internal safety, security measures, and bureaucratic culture were inadequate. This was demonstrated by a series of technological catastrophes in the 1980s and 1990s, the most famous and dangerous of which was the meltdown of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor in Ukraine.
Nuclear, chemical, and biological material storage facilities often were --and still are -- protected by nothing more than a padlock, an impoverished conscript, or a retirement-age guard. Moreover, corruption among general officers, mid-rank officers, and officials is still rampant, and law enforcement is highly selective.
There is a pervasive sense in the Russian military and security services that nobody is responsible for anything and that justice, accountability, and responsibility are not a part of the bureaucratic culture.
Corruption is pervasive. Russian officers and officials have been accused of selling weapons to Chechen militants, allowing armed Chechen to pass unmolested through road-blocs en route to terrorist attacks, attempting to sell nuclear materials from decommissioned submarine reactors in the Northern Fleet, selling vital components of military systems and vehicles, and illegally selling food rations and supplies, leading to malnutrition among the ranks.
In such an environment, the sale of nuclear equipment and material or of even working individual weapons is undeniably feasible.
Three contributing factors may facilitate the purchase of nuclear weapons, material, and components in Russia: anti-Americanism, the growing Wahhabi/Salafi influence, and organized crime.
Anti-Americanism pervades the Russian elite from the top down and is escalating in the media. Every international event, from the bombing of Serb forces in Kosovo to NATO enlargement to granting asylum to Chechen militant leaders in the U.S. and U.K. is interpreted as directed against Russia and aimed at undermining its power.
Most recently, the Russian leadership and media have characterized U.S. support of bloodless revolutions in Georgia and Ukraine as attempts to push Russia out of its sphere of influence in the Commonwealth of Independence States and to install pro-American regimes in these former Soviet republics. A former senior Russian officials stated that "U.S. behavior [vis-à-vis Russia] is not that of a friend, but of an adversary... While we need to talk to the U.S., we need to keep in mind that it is an enemy."(3)
This attitude is echoed in an incessant stream of media commentary and biased reporting, which translate into the results of numerous opinion polls in which the U.S. consistently comes out as Russia's primary adversary.
The Russian military forces' posture, new weapons system development (including nuclear and missile modernization), military maneuvers, and foreign alliances (especially with China and Iran) all indicate that Russia views the United States as an unfriendly power. Such anti-Americanism may facilitate illicit transactions involving nuclear weapons or components in which the Russian seller or thief understands that the U.S. is the likely target.
Over 20 million Moslems – 7% of the total population – live in Russia today. The increasing influence of Salafi/Wahhabi Islam among them may facilitate penetration of the Russian military-industrial complex by collaborators and sympathizers of terrorist organizations.
Pro-Salafi organizations and preachers in Russia operate with few restrictions. Leading Russian experts on Islam have stated that Saudi Arabian funding sources expend large amounts of hard currency in Russia to buy political influence among politicians, journalists, and other members of the Russian elite. (4)
Finally, the influence of organized crime remains pervasive. Russian and post-Soviet organized criminal enterprises are more sophisticated and command more educated personnel than almost any other country’s organized crime structures. Recently, the Prosecutor General of Russia stated that 500 large enterprises are controlled by organized crime, including major oil and gas supply and transportation ventures generating hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue.
In many cases, organized crime has merged with legal business and has access to state enterprises, government officials, and a broad range of international contacts. Russian organized crime may be the conduit through which terrorists acquire and ship nuclear components or weapons to their final destinations.
The Challenges of Non-Proliferation
To diminish proliferation threats from Russia and post-Soviet space, Presidents George H. W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and George W. Bush undertook a number of steps to secure Soviet/Russian WMD, including the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program and pursuing non-proliferation projects with the Yeltsin and Putin governments. This cooperation seems to be working to some degree.
Nonetheless, the Russian stockpile of thousands of nuclear weapons and hundreds of tons of weapons grade material suffers from a number of security issues that need to be addressed, including:
The lack of reliable accounting and electronically updated (and up-to-date) databases that cover all weapons systems, including tactical nuclear arms, shells, and warheads;
The mystery surrounding so-called suitcase bombs;(5)
Poor security of some nuclear weapons systems, especially tactical and stored/decommissioned charges;
The lack of modern means of monitoring, such as closed-circuit TV and motion sensors linked to a computerized monitoring system;
Poor security of highly enriched uranium and plutonium stockpiles; and
Insufficient security of radioactive materials used for research, medical, and industrial purposes.
In terms of probability, a RDD attack is easier to execute than a full-scale nuclear fission explosion. As far as construction of a nuclear device, a HEU (highly enriched uranium) bomb is easier to manufacture than a plutonium bomb, and a crude improvised bomb is easier to build than a military-grade weapon. Having said that, there is more than a theoretical possibility that terrorists could buy a working Russian warhead and deliver it to the U.S. in one of the millions of shipping containers that enter the country without examination by U.S. Customs. Far easier would be smuggling in Russian radioactive material for assembly and detonation of a RDD in the United States.
What the U.S. Should Do
In order to stem the growing nuclear threat facing the U.S., it is imperative that policymakers:
Develop a comprehensive global intelligence network from the current cooperative bilateral arrangements with European, Middle Eastern, South Asia, and East Asian states. Such a network should mesh intelligence gathering, counter-proliferation measures, and special operations to thwart proliferation.
It would provide ample warnings to neutralize terrorist organizations at the early planning stages of a WMD attack. U.S. intelligence community should boost cooperation with law enforcement and foreign intelligence communities to include joint counterterrorist operations. Such operations would include deep, on-site, and long-term penetration of terrorist organizations and neutralizing those involved in WMD terrorist operations through covert action.
Task the Pentagon with developing deterrence against high-value and symbolic targets that terrorists and their sponsors value.
Provide ample funding for joint non-proliferation programs, such as the Proliferation Security Initiative.
Cooperate with Russia and the other former Soviet republics by expanding the Nunn-Lugar funding while boosting the accountability and transparency of these programs.
Design a supporting public affairs component of the U.S. anti-terrorism policy through the State Department Public Diplomacy structure, through the Board of International Broadcasting, and through the non-profit sector to explain the importance of joint anti-terrorism actions to the Russian elites, media, and general public.
Launch a political warfare component via the intelligence community to encourage moderate Moslem clerics to issue fatwas forbidding terrorism in general and attacks using WMD in particular. This component should be expended to include Moslem media in major markets, such as Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.
Consider a program instituting monetary rewards for interception of proliferation operations and nuclear terrorist activities through the U.S. law enforcement and intelligence organizations, without creating a prize for unscrupulous foreign officials to simulate such activities.
Fighting against WMD-armed terrorist groups is possibly more challenging than any Cold War task. During the Cold War, there were only two blocs -- NATO and the Warsaw Pact -- led by strong nation-states with strong chains of command. Now there are multiple players, including transnational movements and other diffuse non-state entities driven by ideology, religious interpretation, and language, which many Americans do not comprehend.
However, the United States and its allies
have no alternative but to combat and destroy these evildoers while preventing
them from obtaining and using weapons of mass destruction.
1. Kelly Uphoff, "Osama bin Laden's Mandate for Nuclear Terror," Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs, December 10, 2004, at www.jinsa.org/articles/articles.html/function/view/categoryid/1701/documentid/2762/history/3,2360,655,1701,2762 (April 13, 2005).
2. Nasir bin Hamid Al-Fahd, "A Treatise on the Legal Status of Using Weapons of Mass Destruction Against Infidels," May 2003, at www.carnegieendowment.org/static/npp/fatwa.pdf (April 13, 2005).
3. Former Russian official, interview with author, Moscow, March 2005.
4. Interviews with author, March 2005.
5. Two senior Russian officials -- the late General Alexander Lebed, President Yeltsin's Secretary of Russia's National Security Council, and Yeltsin's science advisor, Professor Alexei Yablokov -- said publicly and testified that such devices were commissioned by the Soviet KGB (Committee for State Security), but their fate is unclear due to the limited time span of such weapons.