Iran: Things You Cannot Do

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April 7, 2009: The U.S. believes that, at the current rate of progress, Iran will be able to test its first nuclear weapon in 2-3 years. It will take several more years of work before Iran has a weapon that can be delivered by missile, or even reliably via aircraft. The U.S. fears that Israel will eventually attack Iran, but probably not this year. The U.S. also believes that Iran will not, and has not, backed a lot of additional Islamic radical activity, or seriously threatened to disrupt oil shipments in the Persian Gulf, because the oil revenue is the main thing keeping the Iranian religious dictatorship in power. The Iranians believe that, if the oil stops flowing, and the imports stop coming, the mood in the country will quickly turn ugly, and that anger will be turned against the dictatorship, no matter how hard they try to shift the blame to outside forces.

The recent North Korean launch of a long range missile, was witnessed by a fifteen man delegation of Iranian missile experts. North Korea and Iran have long cooperated in developing long range ballistic missiles. The recent North Korean launch was a failure, with the second and third stage of the missile failing and falling into the Pacific ocean. North Korea said it was a satellite launch, not a military rocket test. Two months ago, Iran launched a satellite into low earth orbit. This was similar to the Russian Sputnik launch of 1957, which was the first satellite put in orbit. Since then, nine other nations, including Iran, have done the same. Ukraine was the last to do so, in 1995. Israel launched its first satellite in 1988. North Korea was eager to join this club.

An Iranian blogger has died in prison. The government said he committed suicide, but his family believes he was murdered, as has happened with others who were jailed for speaking out against the government. The blogger, Omidreza Mirsayafi, had been sentenced to 30 months. The government apparently feared he would resume his blogging activities, once his sentence was up. But that would include embarrassing discussions about the Iranian judicial and prison systems.  

A list of forbidden acts for Iranian journalists, got leaked to Western media. The list warns Iranian journalists that they risk jail, or worse, if they write (for Iranian or foreign media), on the upcoming elections, anything about voter boycotts, vote buying, how the government manipulates who can run for office, and, in general, how corrupt the election process is in Iran.

April 5, 2009: In the southeast, a senior Shia cleric was shot dead by Sunni rebels. This low level violence has been going on here for centuries, but has gotten much worse in the last three decades as Iran was taken over by a less tolerant Shia clerical dictatorship.

April 3, 2009: On the Afghan border, gunmen, believed to be Taliban, attacked a border post and killed eight border guards. The Taliban get paid to help the drug smugglers get into Iran, and attacking Iranian border posts helps with this.

March 26, 2009: It was revealed that Israeli warplanes, in late January, destroyed a convoy of Iranian weapons being smuggled into Egypt, and ultimately Gaza. This alerted Egyptian officials, who know their border police on the Sudan frontier, are regularly bribed. But when the Iranian smugglers tried to bribe their way in with a second convoy, the Egyptians turned them back. The Iranian smugglers are believed to have then sought to get the weapons through by using smaller shipments, and professional smugglers, to get the weapons into Egypt.

March 24, 2009: A very public offer by the U.S. government to negotiate with Iran, was dismissed by the Iranian leadership as inadequate. Iran wants a long list of apologies and financial benefits before any talks can begin. So that's the end of that. In fact, the U.S. has always been in touch with the Iranian government since official ties were broken three decades ago (when Iran violated diplomatic protocol by taking prisoner  the U.S. embassy staff). U.S. and Iranian officials have secretly met, and still do, to work out all manner of issues.

 

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