Sunday, August 21, 2016

Parsing Iran’s Nuclear Plans

by Rabbi Dr. Daniel M. Zucker, 10 October 2012

For the past decade—ever since the National Council of Resistance of Iran’s U.S. Representative, Alireza Jafarzadeh, revealed[1] the presence of Iran’s secret nuclear program, the world’s number one question has been: Is Iran seeking to acquire nuclear arms? Only the most naïve would continue to believe the Iranian government’s claim that it is pursuing a strictly civilian nuclear program for the purpose of energy production. Like its rival, Saudi Arabia, Iran sits on some of the biggest known oil[2] and gas[3] fields in the world. Iran needing cheap energy sources is truly a case of the proverbial “carrying coal to Newcastle”. Already eight years ago American diplomats noted that nuclear-produced electricity would be several times more expensive[4] than that produced using Iran’s known extensive oil and gas sources. Bushehr[5]Natanz[6]Arak[7], and Isfahan[8] are not engaged[9] in producing cheap electricity for the Iranian economy. When one adds the intelligence pulled from sites like Parchin[10] and Tehran’s Research Reactor[11]Lavizan 1 and 2[12], as well as Ardekan[13]Fordow[14], and Lashkar Abad[15], and listens with even half an ear to the daily rhetoric of the regime, it is abundantly clear that civilian energy production is not the motivating factor driving the Iranian program. Nuclear weaponry, just as former President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani stated[16] in 2001, is the goal sought eagerly by the ayatollahs. Alleged[17] pious fatwas[18] against the use of atomic armaments notwithstanding[19], the Islamic Republic of Iran seeks[20] nuclear weaponry.

Next, we should ask whether the ayatollah regime can be persuaded to relinquish its military nuclear program. If the answer is in any way positive, we then must ask what the conditions are—if any—under which the regime would agree to forgo its atomic arsenal.

Were these questions being asked seriously a decade ago, there might have been a way to find a solution to the problem, especially if addressed properly in the context of maintaining the careful balance established in Anthony Cordesman’s Dual Containment Policy[21] regarding the balance of power and the mutual containment of both Iran and Iraq. A three-way non-aggression treaty might have assured both Iraq and Iran that a repeat of the 1980-1988 Iraq-Iran War was out of the question and obviated Iran’s need for an atomic  weapons program. Once the balance of power was shifted to Iran (following the 2003 U.S.-led Multi-National Force invasion of Iraq and the subsequent defeat and capture of Saddam Hussein), all normal motivation for Iran to forgo the pursuit of atomic weaponry disappeared. North Korea’s successful production of a nuclear weapon helped re-enforce the Iranian stance and the 2011 NATO invasion of Libya[22] and subsequent overthrow of Muammar Gadhafi—who acquiesced to Western pressure to end his nuclear aspirations[23]—all served[24] to nail the engine-door shut on the mullahs’ run-away atomic train.

Today the Iranian regime knows that its one chance to withstand the common fate of Middle Eastern dictatorships whether in Iraq, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Yemen, or Syria, is to follow the path of North Korea and attain atomic capabilities. The regime is under absolutely no illusions that it is popular with it citizenry—the draconian internal security services forces[25] make sure that all ordinary Iranians know that they have very little privacy, especially in the public arena. If Supreme Leader Sayed Ali Khamenei had any illusions that his government was popular and that Iranians held him personally in admiration, the popularity of the “Green Revolution” anti-regime protests of June-July 2009[26] exploded any such myths forever.

Ali Khamenei looks at atomic weapons and sees the following benefits: 1. An atomic Iran—like an atomic North Korea—is unlikely to be invaded by a U.S. led coalition seeking regime change. 2. Possession of nuclear arms gives the regime a tighter grip on power, enabling it to resist internal opposition and to terrorize its opponents both in and outside the country. 3. Atomic weaponry permits those that seek the immanent return of Imam Mahdi[27] (the Shia Moslem messiah) to initiate cataclysmic warfare with the enemies of Islam that will hasten his arrival[28] and the day of final redemption. 

For these three reasons, Iran’s current leadership is willing to impoverish the Iranian people and risk war with America and or Israel. From Khamenei’s standpoint, the continued pursuit of nuclear weaponry is a “win-win situation”: if he gets the weapons, he has immeasurably strengthened his hand and the hand of the radical Islamist “rejectionist” camp in its anti-West, anti-Zionism campaign. If on the other hand Iran is attacked, he has a “holy-war” that guarantees him martyrdom and instant Jannah[29]—entrance to Islamic heaven with all the trimmings.  For Ali Khamenei, the only thing better than possessing a key to fire nuclear-armed missiles at Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United States, would to be given the keys to the Grand Mosque and Kabaa, the al-Aqsa Mosque, and the White House.

Only when leaders in the West—starting with the occupant of the White House—recognize what has been stated above as reality will we have a proper response[30] to Iran. For those that naively hope and believe that Iran might negotiate in good faith, I hasten to remind that Iran assisted al-Qaeda[31] in preparing for the 2001 attacks on America, turned around and shed crocodile tears, offering the United States condolences on 9-11[32], and then secretly sheltered[33] al-Qaeda leaders, including members of the bin Laden family, in eastern Iran after the American assault on Tora Bora[34].

It should not be forgotten that chess was invented in Iran and Iranians continue to be chess masters. They also are very good at playing poker. But the current game actually seems to be Russian roulette. That being the case, the bottom line here is that playing with an atomic Iran is akin to playing Russian-Roulette with five bullets in the revolver. This writer’s advice: defang the snake decisively now, before it turns around and strikes[35] as vipers are want to do.

Rabbi Dr. Daniel M. Zucker, author of over 90 articles on the Middle-East, is founder and chairman of the board of Americans for Democracy in the Middle-East, a grassroots organization dedicated to teaching the public and its elected officials of the need to promote genuine democratic institutions throughout the Middle East region as an antidote to the dangers posed by Islamic fundamentalism.  He may be contacted at


[1] Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, “New Information on Top Secret Projects of the Iranian Regime's Nuclear Program—Remarks by Alireza Jafarzadeh, U.S. Representative Office, National Council of Resistance of Iran” Iran Watch, August 14, 2002,
[2] Press TV, “Iran to launch biggest oil desalting plant in the Middle East”, Tehran Times, September 18, 2012,
[3] F. Milad, “Iran plans to equal Qatar in South Pars gas extraction”, Trend, September 19, 2012,
[4] Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, “Iran’s Nuclear Program”, Iran Watch, March 2012,
[5] Ariel Zirulnick and Scott Peterson, “Iran nuclear program: 5 key sites (1. Bushehr nuclear power plant)”, The Christian Science Monitor, November 17, 2011,
[6] Ariel Zirulnick and Scott Peterson, “Iran nuclear program: 5 key sites (3.Natanz uranium fuel enrichment plant)”,
[7] Ariel Zirulnick and Scott Peterson, “Iran nuclear program: 5 key sites (2. Arak heavy water reactor)”,
[8] The Institute for Science and International Security, “Nuclear Sites: Esfahan”, ISIS Nuclear Iran, no date, (web site accessed: September 27, 2012),
[9] Global Security Newswire, “Iranian Progress on Arak Reactor Bolsters Bomb Fears”, Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), September 26, 2012,
[10] Maseh Zarif, “Iran’s Military Complex at Parchin and the Nuclear Connection”, AEI Iran Tracker, August 22, 2012,
[11] Ariel Zirulnick and Scott Peterson, “Iran nuclear program: 5 key sites (5. Tehran Research Reactor)”,
[12] Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control, “Destruction at Iranian site raises new questions about Iran’s nuclear activities-ISIS, Iran Watch, June 17, 2004,
[13]  James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies, “Ardakan Yellowcake Production Plant”, Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), 2011, (web site accessed: September 27, 2012),
[14]  Ariel Zirulnick and Scott Peterson, “Iran nuclear program: 5 key sites (4. Fordow fuel enrichment plant)”,
[15] The Institute for Science and International Security, “Nuclear Sites: Lashkar Ab’ad - Laser enrichment”, ISIS Nuclear Iran, no date, (web site accessed: September 27, 2012),
[16] Staff, “Rafsanjani says Muslims should use nuclear weapon against Israel”, Iran Press Service, December 14, 2001,
[17] Eskandar Sadeghi-Boroujerdi, “Jame'eye Baaz | The Flexibility of Khamenei's So-Called 'Nuclear Fatwa'”, Frontline, June 5, 2012,
[18] Lyle Bacaltos, “Iran In Brief: Potential Change in Iran’s Nuclear Fatwa?”, ISIS Nuclear Iran, August 2, 2012,
[19] Michael Eisenstadt and Mehdi Khalaji, “Nuclear Fatwa: Religion and Politics in Iran’s Proliferation Strategy”, The Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Policy Focus # 115, Washington, DC, September 2011,
[20] ISIS Report, “Internal IAEA information links the Supreme Leader to 1984 decision to seek a nuclear arsenal”, ISIS, April 20, 2012,
[21]Maj. Jerry L. Mraz, “Dual Containment:  US Policy in the Persian Gulf and a Recommendation for the Future”, The Research Department, Air Command and Staff College, August 1997,
[22] ---, “2011 military intervention in Libya”, Wikipedia, September 20, 2012,
[23] Peter Crail, “Chronology of Libya's Disarmament and Relations with the United States”, Arms Control Association, March 2011, (web site accessed: September 27, 2012),
[24] Reza Sanati, “A troubling lesson from Libya: Don't give up nukes”, The Christian Science Monitor, August 30, 2011,
[25] ---, “Islamic Republic of Iran Police”, Wikipedia, September 23, 2012,
[26] ---, “2009–2010 Iranian election protests”, Wikipedia, September 26, 2012,
[27] ---, “Mahdi”, Wikipedia, September 16, 2012,
[28] Bridget Johnson, “Who is the 12th imam?”,, 2012,
[29] ---, “Jannah”, Wikipedia, September 2, 2012,
[30] Anthony H. Cordesman, “The New IAEA Report and Iran’s Evolving Nuclear and Missile Forces”, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Washington, DC, November 8, 2011,
[31] Havlish, et. al., “U.S. District Court rules Iran behind 9/11 attacks”,, December 23, 2011,
[32] Suzanne DiMaggio, “US-Iran Relations Since 9/11”,, September 7, 2011,
[33] London Times, “Bin Laden's Closest Family Found Hiding in Iran”,, December 23, 2009,,2933,580945,00.html#ixzz27flutNKt.
[34] ---, “Tora Bora”, Wikipedia, September 21, 2012,
[35] Global Security Newswire, “Iranian Nuclear Missile Could Still be Years Away“, Nuclear Threat Initiative, October 2, 2012,

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