Beyond the Cusp

October 7, 2014

Explosion at Iran’s Parchin Nuclear Plant and What We Might Learn

There is a very good reason why the Iranians continue to refuse to allow International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to inspect the Parchin Military Compound and the areas they suspect is the research facility for nuclear triggers, but that is just the half of it. Today the Iranian semi-official ISNA news agency reported there were two fatalities resulting from a fire which swept through an “explosive materials production unit” which produced a “loud explosion” which was audible several kilometers away. Further reports from opposition Sahamnews outlet claimed the explosion was so powerful it shattered windows some fifteen kilometers away from the site. Any way you slice through the conflicting information, the one thing which is unavoidable is that Iran had a very bad accident in the facilities where their research for a working nuclear trigger is presumed by numerous intelligence sources to be carried out. This should get any thinking person to wondering what the Iranians would want with a complicated, sophisticated high explosive trigger which might require sufficient high explosives stored on sight which might cause an explosion even remotely close to what was reported if they are not producing nuclear weapons from their completely peaceful civilian nuclear research program. But such thinking should raise further questions such as what type of weapon would produce the need for such amounts of explosives.

If it had not been established before, it should now be evident that the Iranians are working towards a nuclear weapons arsenal and not just electrical generation for future needs and medical research and treatments. What remains is to discern is the most likely type of nuclear weapon the Iranian scientists have been ordered to research and produce for their arsenal. If one were to look back in history to the Manhattan Project we would discover that there were two completely different types of nuclear devices dropped on Japan. The program climaxed with the dropping of the two bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, “Little Boy” and “Fat Man” in that order. The bomb dropped on Hiroshima by parachute at 8:15 in the morning was called Little Boy, and it exploded 2,000 feet above the city with a yield equal to approximately 12-15,000 tons of TNT as calculated by the top scientists of the project. The Little Boy bomb was not even tested before being deployed as the physicists were so completely certain of the design that they figured that it did not need to have a demonstration for proof of validity of concept. Little Boy used the Uranium-235 in a gun-style bomb where a machined bullet, projectile or plug which sits at one end of the length of the device with high explosives behind it set to explode when the detonator activates. The projectile travels at high speed into the target which is a block or sphere also made from Uranium-235. The impact speed is set at a sufficient velocity to begin a super-critical mass, initiating a nuclear chain reactive explosion. The design of a bomb of the style and engineering is considered to be so primitive in this the twenty-first century that it can be readily downloaded or found in your local library, assuming there is still a public library in your town in this Internet age. Developing a bomb such as Little Boy would not require any amount of explosives sufficient to shatter windows fifteen kilometers away or be heard over an even greater distance.

So, could the Iranians be working on another design, say the same as the bomb dropped on Nagasaki which was named Fat Man which was an entirely different design which had required a test device before it was approved for use by the military forces in the Pacific to force an end to World War II. Fat Man was an implosion-type nuclear weapon with a plutonium core. Fat Man was detonated at an altitude of approximately 1,800 feet over the city and had a yield of approximately 20,000 tons of TNT. In order to bring the plutonium-240 isotope to critical mass and initiate the chain reaction the surrounding high explosives needed to be designed carefully, crafted with care and near perfection and then detonated in an exacting sequence which places equal and seamlessly even pressure compacting the core until the bomb explodes with greater force than the entire bomb weight in high explosives could ever produce. This type of bomb requires a sufficient mass of high explosives in order to produce the device, but probably not a store of high, medium and slow explosives to have produced the explosions described occurring at the Parchin Military Base. The design for a Fat Man type device is also relatively easy to find though some of the finer points of the device are usually left out or are vaguely defined. There is a very good reason that the design for a Fat Man device are not given anywhere near as completely as the Little Boy device, though neither device’s complete design is given, is that there is another level of nuclear device which requires an implosions fission device similar but more advanced than Fat Man as the precursor in order to attain the force to attain the fusion of a hydrogen bomb, a thermo-nuclear device, a far more destructive device than any fission device by a factor anywhere from ten to a thousand times.

The making of either the gun style or the implosion type device could be developed, even given the sketchy designs available, by any physicist of any repute. Developing a thermo-nuclear device would be considerably more difficult. Such a device starts with an implosion device of sufficient yield that it can compress the entirety of the core device to force the fusion of hydrogen atoms in the core device. Even after developing a large and energetic enough to provide the compressive force, one still has to develop the inner core of the thermo-nuclear device which is never revealed with any accuracy or even imaginary measurements. This is likely wise and makes the development of such weapons of mass destruction that much more difficult which will hopefully handicap those much of the rest of the world prays never get possession of such devices. Iran has been working towards developing such a device for close to two decades. Developing a thermo-nuclear device would require more high explosives as the triggering mechanism would have to be far more sophisticated and thus more experimentation. Perhaps the suspicions of Netanyahu are more valid than the excuses from other locales where all the Israeli protestations are dismissed out of hand. Perhaps we should all simply soothe our suspicions and fears with the fact and hopes that the explosion set the Iranian nuclear weapons program back some relatively large amount. Still, we can also prove our humanity and regret the loss of life and give our sympathy to their families and pray that the Iranian nuclear research and programs never take an additional life, Iranian or anybody from anywhere on our ever shrinking planet.

Below are pictures depicting before and after the explosion:

 

Picture explosion at Parchin Military Base in Iran

Before/After Parching Military Base explosions

 

Beyond the Cusp

August 7, 2013

Obama Likely Considering Tragic Error in Iran Policy

The writing is appearing on the wall as new Iranian President Hassan Rouhani introduces the idea that Iran is ready to negotiate and do so with a new openness stating, “As the president of the Islamic republic, I am announcing that there is the political will to solve this issue and also take into consideration the concerns of the other sides We are the people of interaction and talks, with seriousness and without wasting time, if the other sides are ready.” Quoted by the Agency France Press (AFP), President Rouhani also proclaimed, “”Iran’s peaceful nuclear program is a national issue… we will not give up the rights of the Iranian people. We will preserve our rights based on the international regulations. In Iran, nobody has said we will give up uranium enrichment, no one and at no time. He also took a swipe at the United States complaining that Washington was sending “contradictory messages” with the White House claiming they are a “willing partner” desiring genuine talks while the U.S. Senate urging tougher sanctions. He added talking to AFP, “Recent declarations from the White House show that some U.S. officials do not have a correct and realistic assessment of the situation here and the message that the Iranian people gave in the election. They are still sending contradictory messages. We care about the U.S. response in deeds, not in words.” The new Iranian President denounced the letter calling for stronger sanctions to be placed on Iran received by the White House recently from seventy-six Senators claiming, “The interests of a foreign country and the will of a certain group have been imposed on U.S. lawmakers, who do not serve the interests of the United States.”

 

Taking a supportive view of the Iranian statements offering a fresh and new approach to the negotiations over the Iranian nuclear program was the Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov who told AFP, “I think these ideas contradict the fundamental interests of the international community. These are dangerous games and we hope reason will prevail.” Furthermore, in complete agreement with Iran, Foreign Minister Lavrov strongly criticized as well the letter signed by the seventy-six United States Senators sent to the White House calling for tougher U.S. sanctions until the promise of more constructive engagement proved to be validated, saying that it was in the interests of the whole world to respond positively to Rouhani’s talks offer. AFP further quoted the Russian Foreign Minister protesting, “These are dangerous games and we hope reason will prevail.” Lavrov claimed it to be “extremely important” that the group of Five Permanent Members of the UN Security Council Plus Germany, aka P5+1, to take the new approach emanating from the newly elected Iranian leadership and hold a fresh, new and open negotiations as soon as possible.

 

That is a rather broad front supporting resetting the entire negotiations over the Iranian to square one ignoring all of the previous obstructions, prevarications, equivocations and outright lies that have been the main fare of the Iranian negotiations as well as the basis of their dealing with the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) since the very start. To relent and suffer the restart of negotiations would be to completely ignore the salient fact that President Rouhani was the leading negotiator for Iran at these very same negotiations over the Iranian clandestine nuclear program and he could very honestly be credited with being one of the originators of the oblique and circuitous negotiation technique that has continued to the present. To believe his words of encouragement would be to once again fall for his proven practice of say one thing and mean the opposite for which he gained some amount of reputation during his period of representing Iran at these very talks. Still, if anything could be said to give credit to President Obama, it must be said that he holds a strong proclivity to give second, third and even fourth chances in all the wrong situations.

 

Sometimes President Obama’s actions in negotiations with the enemies of the United States, the Western World and our way of life, he seems to have infinite patience and a level of accommodations to show favor granting them every possible benefit believing even the most ludicrous of claims. It is that track record that has some fully expecting President Obama to take Iranian President Rouhani’s and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s advice and grant the Iranians the benefit of a fresh start and may even go as far as to provide Iran some amount of relief from the current level of sanctions but will, at a minimum, not choose to increase the level of sanctions for as long as he is able to hold off the demands of the Congress and the American people. The additional fact that Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu’s colorfully described newly elected Iranian President Hassan Rouhani as “a wolf in sheep’s clothing” will only redouble President Obama’s irresistible need to grant the Iranian leader as many fresh, new chances as he requests until overwhelmingly pressured by the Congress, the American people, and realities beyond any ability to ignore. The actions by President Obama beg one to inquire why exactly he appears ready to go to any length to guarantee that Iran is permitted adequate time to complete their efforts to join the nuclear club despite the evidence of what ends Iranian Supreme Leader intends to pursue once they have the weapons they continuously tell President Obama they are not researching. Some things just boggle the mind beyond any capabilities for logic to explain, yet explain them we must try.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

July 26, 2013

United States Middle East Policy a Disaster Zone

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When looking at the Middle East and the efforts of the United States, and we use the word efforts in the weakest of definitions possible, one sees a string of disasters where the Palestinian/Israeli Peace Process must be considered to be the shining glory when compared to the rest of the situations. One almost shakes there head muttering, “Where to start, where to start?” The United States is finding even removing their equipment and forces out of Iraq and Afghanistan to be a difficult and unnecessarily expensive task to complete. Looking at the sanctions which are presumably deterring Iran from moving forward with their nuclear program and forcing them to deal honestly with the United Nations IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) one sees them making life difficult for many of the least affluent citizens and devastating the middle class merchants but having little if any influence on the government who is proceeding without any difficulties with their nuclear programs for enriching Uranium to just over twenty percent, developing their plutonium production, advancing their ballistic missile programs, and even importing banned substances, materials and even equipment with such minimal difficulties that they are actually erecting yet another nuclear facility if intelligence recently received in Europe is to be believed. Meanwhile, the newly elected President of Iran, Hassan Rowhani, was their former nuclear negotiator who was very adept at being obstructive and is not likely to change the Iranian goal of becoming nuclear weapons capable. He also will not be as ham-fisted as Ahmadinejad and should be a far superior deceiver who is quite adept at misdirection and false representation in negotiations and when speaking to the press. He will prove to be much as Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu described him, “A wolf in sheep’s clothing.”

 

While talking about Iran, we may as well address Iraq and how much of the efforts expended by the United States have been completely reversed since their departure. The most obvious turn of events was the aligning by Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki with Iran. This alliance has led to the Iranian airlifts of war materials and personnel to Syria which was something the United States would have actively opposed if they had any remaining influence. Additionally, al-Qaeda has returned and recently breached two Iraqi prisons managing to bring about the escape of over five-hundred of their leading members who were incarcerated. This infusion of top level, experienced manpower will greatly enhance the capabilities of the al-Qaeda terror groups in Iraq, Syria and possibly even in Afghanistan and in the Sinai Peninsula. The level of violence had been increasing even before the raids on the two prisons and now the effect will be a force multiplier on many fronts. There will be a lasting effect of the al-Qaeda raid that will be felt for years possibly decades and will greatly enhance the capability of al-Qaeda worldwide. This will also make the situation in Iraq become even more violent and destabilized. Iraq has gone in a short period from an American success into a potential for a failed state should the violence continue to build. The one bright result has been the semi-autonomous Kurdish areas in the north of the country. We will cover more on this Kurdish area later.

 

Next we move to Afghanistan where Afghan President Hamid Karzai has turned to the Taliban to deal with them after he felt betrayed upon finding out that United States President Obama had approached the Taliban over two years ago in an effort to cut a deal to allow the United States to leave Afghanistan without facing increased violence. President Obama’s approach of the Taliban became an utter failure once he had announced that after the surge in American forces that then the United States was going to draw down their troop strength and prepare to leave by a set date. From that point on the Taliban decided to simply wait out the Americans. Now Afghan President Hamid Karzai has decided to see exactly how far he can push the Americans by levying fines, taxes, fees or whatever one wishes to call them on the removal of equipment from his country. Reports claim that the Afghan government wants to charge the U.S. Military $1,000 in customs fees for every cargo container that leaves the country. This began over a year ago and was just one more manner in which the United States’ supposed allies have been attempting to fleece the goose before it departs taking its future golden eggs with. Unfortunately, this is an example of some of the more favorable events of relations between Presidents Karzai and Obama. It appears almost inevitable that the Taliban will return and take control over most of Afghanistan and we might even see the return of al-Qaeda training grounds in the not too distant future. Certainly Afghanistan will not be a shining example of American success.

 

Then there is the military coup that shall not be named a coup in Egypt where the military in response to massive millions of demonstrators in the streets removed the duly elected Muslim Brotherhood backed President Morsi and imposed their hand-picked replacement in the Presidency promising to hold election as soon as possible. Egyptian Army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi placed as interim President the Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court Adli Mansour. Feeling pressure to announce a date for new elections, interim President Adli Mansour stated that a parliamentary vote would be held in about six months which would be followed soon after by a presidential election. Meanwhile the levels of violence continue to climb with the Muslim Brotherhood calling for massive “peaceful” demonstrations and Army chief Abdel Fattah al-Sisi also calling for demonstrations to produce a show of support by the people for the military’s actions in removing President Morsi. The ensuing confrontation of these two groups could explode today after Friday services have ended. Another problem which has resulted from the lack of government control has been complete lawlessness in the Sinai Peninsula. There is currently a multi-divisional Egyptian force deployed after receiving Israeli permission into the Sinai Peninsula in an effort to impose order and end the buildup of terrorist groups who had developed a large presence taking advantage of the lack of continuous governance in Egypt. There does not appear to be any quick fix in store as Egypt is highly likely to spin into more violence possibly even reaching levels of a Civil War similar as to the disaster raging in Syria.

 

That brings us to Syria where an all-out and excessively destructive Civil War has raged for over two years. Much of the national infrastructure is in a shambles and there are millions upon millions of refugees currently in camps in Turkey, Jordan, Iraq and Lebanon. There have even been a couple of dozen injured victims from the fighting that have crossed the Golan Heights and received care in Israel before being sent either back into Syria or into Jordan. President Obama has claimed he supports the removal of Syrian President Bashir al-Assad as long as it did not require him to exert much effort. He originally promised to supply humanitarian supplies but refused to send weapons or other military aid to the Rebels. His main stance pertained to the use of chemical weapons which President Obama threatened would cause serious consequences should Bashir al-Assad be proven to have deployed such weapons of mass destruction. Then there came initial proof provided by the Israelis, French and British that al-Assad had indeed deployed chemical weapons against the Rebels and some civilians in Aleppo. The severe consequences implemented by President Obama was to fiercely restate that use of chemical weapons would cross his “Red Line” and result in serious consequences. This dance continued through the next few weeks until President Obama could no longer pretend that the evidence was inconclusive and he then promised to supply some of the Rebels with light weapons and ammunition. Somewhat behind the scenes was Saudi Arabia who has been supplying the Syrian Rebels with light and medium weapons for the past two years with the blessings of the United States. This was the way that the United States could funnel whatever supplies they deemed necessary as long as no game changing weapons systems were transferred by the Saudi Arabian government. The one plus in Syria is that the Kurdish population has carved out an autonomous area in the northeastern parts of Syria. With any luck and the well-earned and owed assistance of the United Nations and the rest of the world, the Kurdish areas in Syria and neighboring Iraq will be allowed to be independent as a reformed Kurdistan.

 

The Civil War in Syria has gone through a transformation here in the past four to six weeks and is no longer simply about deposing Syrian President Bashir al-Assad. The struggle has now become the next step in the world jihad being waged by the Sunni Muslims which include the Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda against the Iranian Shiite front which is fighting to retain the Shiite Crescent which stretches from Iran to the Mediterranean Sea and includes Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. The Lebanon branch of the Iranian Shiites is Hezballah which has taken some serious casualties over the last few weeks of the latest offensive thrust from the Iranian backed forces who are merely using al-Assad as their excuse but are actually now fighting to retain their supply line from Iran to Hezballah who represent the Iranian front against Israel. There are two other fronts to the Civil War between the Sunnis and the Shiites in Syria which have not received much coverage. The more active front has been the Shiites in Turkey who have been rioting in an attempt to weaken and eventually overthrow Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and replace him with a Shiite ruler who would follow the dictates out of Iran. The other front has been quieted as there was a recent joint training exercise in Jordan which included United States troops which some have remained along with their equipment in order to strengthen Jordanian King Abdullah II. The threat in Syria will likely intensify in the coming weeks as some of the recently freed al-Qaeda leadership and highly experienced fighters in Iraq make their way into Syria. The al-Qaeda offensive in Syria will eventually, should they succeed in Syria, spread across into Lebanon and possibly even into Egypt should the situation there disintegrate much further and devolve into another Civil War similar as in Syria except in Egypt it would be Sunni Islamists against the Egyptian military. Presumably the United States would support the Egyptian military should such fighting break out, but as the United States just decided to put the delivery of four F-16 jet fighters until the unrest in Egypt becomes more settled that becomes questionable.

 

There are also the lower level conflicts which remain simmering in Libya and Tunisia. Libya has broken down into tribal and clan level skirmishes as well as the country becoming a training ground for al-Qaeda and other terrorist groups. Libya has also become a place to organize fighting units and training them before injecting them into Mali, Nigeria and other areas in neighboring African countries where there is fighting between Islamic rebels and the governments. With Libya having become something of a failed state this was bound to happen and will only get more serious unless somebody either takes over as the new strongman much like Moammar Gadhafi and literally imposes their will on the more populous tribes forcing them to support them. In Tunisia the people had elected by a slim majority a Muslim Brotherhood majority government. They had expected to see some economic growth and development or at the very least some relief from the burdensome rules of the previous government. No such relief has been felt and the natives are getting restless.

 

Lastly there is the ever present Palestinian-Israeli Peace Process which has been misrepresented as having been restarted by Secretary of State Kerry. With Secretary Kerry making six trips since taking office to the Middle East in an attempt to force the two sides back to the negotiation’s table, he has made progress but not necessarily as much as advertised. Yes, the two sides are supposedly sending representatives to Washington DC to meet. No, they are not coming to hash out the final status issues. The coming negotiations are simply negotiations about whether or not to meet to actually negotiate and what will be required from each side to facilitate such negotiations. Mahmoud Abbas has not given up on imposing his preconditions; he has simply sidestepped everything and is now making his preconditional demands through a mediator, namely Secretary Kerry. Thus far it appears that Secretary Kerry is having no reservations about presenting Abbas’s preconditions to the Israelis and has already pried a concession from Prime Minister Netanyahu, a release of an unspecified number but rumored to be approximately one-hundred of some of the longest serving terrorist prisoners. Many of these prisoners are serving multiple life sentences as they have the blood of numerous Israeli victims through their planning, bomb-making, and actual actions on their hands. Many Israelis believe that this was an outrageous concession and will hold this against the Prime Minister for as long as they live. If these talks do not produce tangible results which are believed by many Israelis to be favorable, a highly unlikely scenario, then it is doubtful that Prime Minister Netanyahu will have any future in Israeli politics. There are those in Israel who suspect that President Obama is doing a great amount of arm-twisting and even leveling threats of withdrawal of United States support in both arms and in use of the American veto in the Security Council to squeeze Netanyahu in order to be able to present President Abbas with an irresistible offer. Our prediction is that unless the offer includes all of Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Right of Return for all five to six million Palestinian Refugees into Israel accepted immediately as full citizens and either their homes and lands restored or equivalent properties given them, then Mahmoud Abbas will refuse and walk away and start another round of violence. All in all the Middle East is in the worst shape than it has seen since the end of World War I and the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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