Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Iran Threatens the US with 'Harm and Pain' Over Uranium Enrichment

Well, the tension with Iran grows over their plans for uranium enrichment. While the US presses for Iran to be brought in front of the UN security council, Iran threatens us with "harm and pain" if there are in fact brought before the council. (Iran Threatens U.S. With 'Harm and Pain').

If the issue does come before the UN SC, it is likely that it will come sometime next week (Iran likely to face Security Council next week). If sanctions are imposed, they could include economic and political sanctions, none of which would likely have any effect on Iran.

Sanctions on oil are unlikely for several reasons. First of all, Russia and China who have veto power on the SC have significant economic interest in Iran's oil industry. This is a real issue even though the US and Russia have presented a united front on the issue (U.S., Russia Cooperate on Iran Amid Rifts). Second, any disruption in Iran's oil production could lead to world oil prices reaching over $100 a barrel.

We can't threaten an arms embargo. That already exists for the most part.

The UN can threaten to freeze Iran's assets overseas, but due to that prospect, Iran has already pulled billions out of overseas accounts.

Revocation of visas to travel abroad? Gee... that is a whopper. 90% of Americans have never been outside of the US. I don't think that will hurt too many Iranians either.

Military options include invasion and strikes against Iranian nuclear facilities. The invasion prospects are dim at best. With US forces tied down in Iraq and Afghanistan, it would be years before we would have the logistical ability to mount such and invasion (and Iran knows this).

There is the option of air strikes against facilities in Iran, but this would bring about the possibility of a counter offensive of Iranian forces moving into Iraq. While the Iranians would probably be welcomed by Iraqis in the Shiite dominated south, Sunnis would be afraid of Shiite dominated Iran gaining control of Iraq and the reprisals for the Iran-Iraq war in addition to the general treatment of Shiites in Iraq over the past 30 years. We would have Sunni Iraqis fighting Iranian and Iraqi Shiites, but not necessarily on our side or in any coordination with our military. Basically, our troops could end up in the crossfire of a 1400 year old Islamic schism.

Additionally, the invasion of the 2nd of 3 axis of evil countries would surly precipitate North Korea's advancement of their own nuclear program. With the US engaged in Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan, NK would have 5-10 years of breathing room in which they can develop nuclear weapons to ensure their survival.

Additionally, the distraction to the east could lead Turkey to finally play its hand in Kurdish held northern Iraq. This is a small possibility, due to Turkey's desire to enter into the EU, but none the less, a possibility.

So, in the end, at best, we are likely to see weak and ineffective sanctions against Iran. This will strengthen the hand of the hardliners. Cheney can talk tough all he wants, but words will do little.


Sigmund, Carl and Alfred said...

Well said- I'm not an optimist these days, re Iran.

That said, don't rule out the Israelis. With covert support from us and NATO, they can force Iran's hand.

Let's face it, the Israelis have a lot more to lose with each passing day.

It isn't as if Israel won't be demonized by the Muslim world any more than she already is, and it isn't if the west would lose much sleep over an emasculated Iran.

Dingo said...

I have not ruled out Israel by any stretch of the imagination. It may come down to that.

tommy said...

the ability to mount an invasion exists and it wouldn't take that long to get it done. the will to do it is another thing entirely and as a result I don't think you'll see it unless the threat is imminent (meaning the invasion would be too late and after the fact).

So someone else is going to have to deal with Iran, that pretty much leaves Israel.

North Korea won't change anything their doing either way. They might change their rhetoric but not their actions.

Dingo said...

a) I agree with you that the ability to invade Iran exists, but we would be stretched way too thin.

b) I think it would take much more than what it took to invade Iraq. Not only is the population vastly larger and the ground area vastly greater, the reaction by the rest of the Muslim population has the potential to be immense. An invasion of a third Muslim country would most likely trigger a huge influx of foreign fighters into all three countries.

c) if we did invade Iran, there would be no possibility of military action against NK. Air strikes alone would not be enough to do the job. We would need ground troops to take and hold territory. Using Japanese troops in NK is not an option. You might even get SK coming in on the side of NK if that were to happen. Many of the same issues surround China also (even if the Chinese would be willing to risk their own destabilization over NK).

So, if you are NK, and you are third on the hit list and the only assurance you have of survival is nuclear weapons, what would you do? You have to remeber that we are still techically at war with NK as it is.

Paul said...

Think of this scenario. The USA stretched thin uses the nuclear option. Israel will do whatever to insure their survival and I wouldn't blame them in the face of hordes of fanatical Arabs. It is terrible to contemplate, but ...

tommy said...

Most of those saying we'd be stretched too thin don't know the plans or how they are to be implemented. Their intent is to spin something, the actual facts and such aren't important. The problem would not be the thin part, but the lack of will to do it(for the most part I happen to think that's a good thing, I don't think we need to start anything anywhere right now).

The ROKs might do a lot of things, but enter on the side of the North Koreans is I think, not one of them.

Dingo said...

I think you underestimate the collective hatred of the Japanese by the koreans and the desire in the south to re-unify with the north.

As for too thin... everyone that I have talked to in the military seems to have that opinion.

tommy said...

I did spend a year over there living and working with the ROKAF. Don't be misled by the fuzzy talk about reunification, they would like it, but not at the cost of letting the North have any control. The ROK and Japan do have a cooperative alliance of sorts.