Iran: So What?

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October 1, 2009: For the first time in nearly a year, Iran has resumed talks with Western nations over Iran's nuclear weapons program (which Iran insists does not exist). Iran uses these talks to keep their enemies busy and confused. Iran has shown no sign of willingness to halt their nuclear weapons development program. The Iranians are certain that nothing can stop them. And when their new, underground nuclear fuel production facility is completed in two years, they will be more immune to Israeli or American air attack.

Violence continues in the Kurdish areas of northern Iran. In the last month, there has been an increase in terror attacks by Kurdish separatists. This included the murder of a pro-government Islamic cleric. The government maintains a reign of terror in the area, knowing that this works to keep the unrest from growing.

Iran denies that it has been supporting Shia tribesmen who are fighting government forces in northern Yemen. But Iranian weapons and equipment have been captured there, and some captured rebels admit that Iranian agents have provided some support.

Pakistan has tightened security on its Iranian border, after noting an increase in Islamic radicals crossing into Pakistan, on their way to other countries (especially in the West.) More of these jihadis are simply being turned back, or even arrested. Iran denies that it is facilitating the movements of Islamic terrorists.

Iran continues to deny it is developing nuclear weapons, despite the recent revelation that it is building a secret, underground, nuclear fuel production facility. Meanwhile, several smuggling efforts have been broken up in the West, that were seeking to obtain nuclear weapons components for Iran. Despite all this, Iran continues to deny everything. The new plant has been known about for nearly three years, since shortly after tunneling operations began in the southern Iran locations (near the city of Qom, where many senior clerics live, and the major religious schools are located.) The existence of this underground nuclear fuel plant was not generally known to the public until the U.S. and Britain revealed its existence last month. Iran admitted the plant existed, and said it would not be ready for production until 2011.

Iran is buying more of its refined oil products, especially gasoline, from China. Although the Chinese products are more expensive (partly because of the longer shipping distance), it is believed that the Chinese goods are less vulnerable to American sanctions. Iran has been unable to construct much refining capacity, largely because of all the economic sanctions, and government inefficiency.

The lifestyle police are now cracking down on female mannequins in clothing stores. The female mannequins can no longer be used to display underwear or anything similar. The lifestyle police are a major irritant to the population, and contribute to the anger that occasionally turns into violent anti-government demonstrations. But so far, the government has been more violent in response, and popular anger has been controlled. The government is still trying some 400 "leaders" of recent demonstrations against the fraudulent government voting practices in the presidential elections earlier this year.

The U.S. has come up with a clever idea; threaten sanctions against maritime insurance companies that insure cargoes and ships taking goods to Iran. This can be gotten around by Iran offering insurance coverage. This will make it more expensive for Iran to import goods, and that pain will be passed on to the population at large. This will change little, as the clerics running the government have learned how to run an efficient police state. As the 20th century experience showed, these modern police states are unshakable unless they are invaded and conquered, or the dictatorship ruins the economy sufficiently that the population simply refuses to obey any longer (that's what caused the mass collapse of communist police states in the late 1980s and early 1990s.)

September 28, 2009:  Iran tested two of its longer range ballistic missiles. These are still in development, and these tests are believed to be for testing minor changes in the design.

September 27, 2009:  Iran fired several short range ballistic missiles. This has to be done with older, solid fuel, missiles, because the solid fuel (actually a molded block of slow burning explosives) is chemically active and degrades over time. Eventually, you must either fire these missiles, or replace the rocket motors (the block of solid fuel). Otherwise the aging solid fuel motor will misfire, and perhaps even explode, when fired.

September 23, 2009: Russia is getting nervous about Iran, its support of terrorism,  development of missiles that can reach southern Russia, and efforts to build nuclear weapons. Russia is now willing to impose more severe sanctions on Iran.

September 22, 2009: South of the capital, at a rally commemorating the 1980s war with Iraq, two air force warplanes collided overhead and crashed. One of the downed aircraft was Iran's sole AWACs aircraft. Iran's military is old and poorly maintained, and these frequent aircraft accidents are an embarrassing reminder of this.

September 21, 2009:  The government ordered that its foreign currency reserves be shifted from dollars to euros. The dollar has been getting weaker in currency markets over the last year, and the Iranians want to make their currency reserves less vulnerable to the growing number of American sanctions.

September 18, 2009: In the capital, thousands of demonstrators marched against the government, taking advantage of a larger, government organized, demonstration backing Palestinian efforts to destroy Israel.

September 17, 2009: The U.S. has agreed to halt construction of an anti-missile system in Poland and the Czech Republic. This was to protect Europe from Iranian missiles, but Russia protested that the system could also defeat Russian missiles aimed at Europe. Meanwhile, Israel continues to expand its own anti-missile system, which currently is capable of intercepting a few Iranian missiles. Israel plans to keep expanding its defense system, so that Iran has little chance of destroying Israel (and lots of Arabs) with a nuclear attack (via ballistic missile.) Israel already has ballistic missiles, with nuclear warheads, that can reach Iran (which has no anti-missile system.)

 

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