I find Juan Cole to be unwarrantedly hostile against Iran and especially against Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, however he does have a solid understanding of the dispute between the US/Israel and Iran over the nuclear issue.
I think this exchange from the comments section of his website deserves to be highlighted:
06/09/2011 at 9:14 pm
—-’The US, Germany, France, Britain, Russia and China issued a joint statement today expressing “deepened concerns” over Iran’s “consistent failure” to comply with UN resolutions about possible military dimensions to its nuclear program. The statement was issued a day after Iran said it would triple production of 20-percent uranium and shift the production from Natanz to the underground bunker of Fardu.’—-
this follows the earlier—
IAEA Director Amano General Yukiya Amano, in a statement at the meeting of the IAEA Board of Governors in Vienna on Monday, said that the agency has received “further information related to possible past or current undisclosed nuclear-related activities that seem to point to the existence of possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program.”
06/09/2011 at 11:12 pm
There can’t be military dimensions to Iran’s enrichment program unless they enrich to 95% or so, which they haven’t and probably at the moment cannot.
A weapons program would involve gaining the technology to construct a warhead and learning how to enrich to weapons grade. There is no evidence whatsoever that Iran has made a decision to do so, and therefore no evidence that it has a weapons program. Having a civilian enrichment program is not the same as having a military program. They are two different tracks. There is no evidence for the second.
06/09/2011 at 11:39 pm
Juan, there isn’t going to be evidence of the decision prior to construction.
there IS evidence that they’re working on bomb design, and working on modifying their long-range rockets for different types of warheads than the ones that they currently possess.
06/10/2011 at 12:10 am
Of course there would be evidence of a weapons program if one existed.
1. we entice defectors from the nuclear program and debrief them. some come out of with documents. No weapons program.
2. US has world-beating signals intelligence capabilities. Telephone calls made by military and nuclear program officials are under surveillance. No evidence from signals of a weapons program. In fact in 2007 a call was intercepted by an angry IRGC commander complaining bitterly about the decision not to weaponize.
3. IAEA inspectors certify that no uranium has been diverted to military purposes– i.e. the seals are unbroken.
4. Inspectors find no signature of highly enriched uranium or plutonium
5. Enriching to 95% would be power- and water- intensive and any such facility could be detected by satellite and other intelligence.
The concern is not that there is a weapons program, it is that the civilian enrichment program might be made a platform at some point in the future for a crash high-enrichment program, using the stock of low enriched uranium already at hand. That is what is meant by a two-year window once a decision to weaponize has been made. But the intelligence estimates are that no such decision has been made, and likely none will be. Moreover, the two-year window has been repeatedly alleged of such programs, and was with regard to Iraq, and in the latter case it was a fantasy.
Missiles are irrelevant and a red herring.
My usual response to claims that Iran has a nuclear program is to ask "have you contorted the English language so much that you claim that Japan has a nuclear weapons program?"
A person who claims Japan has a nuclear weapons program is really not speaking English, is using terms outside of their usual meanings for the express purpose of being deceptive. A person who claims Japan has a nuclear weapons program is lying. A person who claims that Iran, in attempting to reach the nuclear status Japan has reached, has a nuclear weapons program, again, is lying.
The US official position, that of fuster above just as much as that of most of the US nuclear policy community, including Barack Obama is a lie, it is a deliberate attempt at deception.
Juan Cole has been on the list of US and Western analysts who have been attempting to correct the deceptive position expoused by their governments on this issue for years now. He has recently been joined by some others.