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Posted at 10:49 AM ET, 02/16/2011

So much for breathing space with Iran

By Jennifer Rubin

The Post reports today:

In a six-month period between late 2009 and last spring, U.N. officials watched in amazement as Iran dismantled more than 10 percent of the Natanz plant's 9,000 centrifuge machines used to enrich uranium. Then, just as remarkably, hundreds of new machines arrived at the plant to replace the ones that were lost. . . .

Records of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the U.N. nuclear watchdog, show Iran struggling to cope with a major equipment failure just at the time its main uranium enrichment plant was under attack by a computer worm known as Stuxnet, according to Europe-based diplomats familiar with the records.

But the IAEA's files also show a feverish - and apparently successful - effort by Iranian scientists to contain the damage and replace broken parts, even while constrained by international sanctions banning Iran from purchasing nuclear equipment. An IAEA report due for release this month is expected to show steady or even slightly elevated production rates at the Natanz enrichment plant over the past year

In other words, neither the administration's touted sanctions nor a computer virus has slowed the Iranian regime's quest for nuclear weapons. For all the chest-puffing by the Obama team, sanctions have in fact not "worked."

The notion fanned by the administration that we, by virtue of sanctions and espionage (by unidentified players), had bought the West some time to defang the Revolutionary Islamic state's nuclear program turns out, like so much else with regard to Obama's foreign policy "successes," to be more spin than reality. (In this case, it seems to be all spin.)

I asked former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton this morning about this revelation and the president's newly-toughened rhetoric on Iran. The rhetoric didn't impress Bolton. He explains that the president's sterner rhetoric was "too little, too late" to be of much help to the Green Movement. He recalled, "The U.S. has a history of rhetorical support for opposition without material support that ends in tragic bloodshed (Hungary, 1956; Iraq, post-Desert Storm, 1991). U.S. policy should be regime change in Iran, with both overt and covert assistance to opposition groups willing to accept it."

Bolton had been skeptical of the impact of Stuxnet. He wryly reminds me, "I have been saying for some time that Mossad is an excellent intelligence agency but an even better propaganda agency." So what now? He says, "Stuxnet caused some minor delays to uranium enrichment program, but not nearly enough to change the basic calculus that, as the Obama administration itself said last spring, an Iranian crash program could produce a nuclear weapon in one year. That means there are still only two options: Let Iran get nuclear weapons or use preemptive military force."

Regime change, of course, would be a third option. But as a former official and Iran guru put it, "The problem is we are afraid to say we want regime change." And that, unfortunately, leaves us with the two options Bolton lays out.

By Jennifer Rubin  | February 16, 2011; 10:49 AM ET
Categories:  Iran  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: What is our Iran policy?
Next: The other war against Israel


Yes, and if you believe this story, I have some Nigerian yellowcake I can sell you. Mere propaganda timed to get the neo-con war drums banging. Bolton will be the first one to do a drum solo.

Posted by: ConscientiousObjector1 | February 16, 2011 11:12 AM | Report abuse

Regime change in Iraq is on course to build a Shiite dominated govt based on instituting Sharia law supported by Iran and it's only cost us about a trillion dollars. Wolfowitz was a tad off on his estimates.

I wonder what the price tag of Iranian regime change would be? Jennifer, you advocate but you don't give us hard numbers. Sell it to us!

Posted by: mfray | February 16, 2011 12:01 PM | Report abuse

Two comments, both useless.

First the so called ConscientiousObjector1 completely fails the basic test of debate. Debate requires one to support an assertion. I see no support for this commenters assertions at all. Liberals used to get by with sneering cynicism in the place of actual concrete proof. No mas pal. If you think the statements in the blog post are wrong, prove your assertion. Since you didn't bother it is more than fair to conclude that you simply can't.

then mfray shares general bleating whine number fifteen from the liberal play book: Iraq ain't perfect and we spent money there.

What short sighted nonsense. If this is the best the left has the tea party will eat their lunch yet again in 2012.

Cynical and uninformed is no way to go through life fellahs.

Posted by: skipsailing28 | February 16, 2011 12:27 PM | Report abuse



I'll add that anyone who brings up "yellowcake" in regards to their opposition to the Iraq war has automatically lost the argument.

Posted by: RitchieEmmons | February 16, 2011 2:01 PM | Report abuse

The reality is the only people who know the kind of damage stuxnet did are the creators, and Iran. This attacked 1000s of computers and there are still major segments of the code still in wrappers/ encrpyted. We don't know how this has played out, and frankly why would we need to.

Just because they replaced the PLCs does not mean they are not vulnerable to attacks.

Posted by: Natstural | February 16, 2011 2:31 PM | Report abuse

Let's finish the two wars first. It seems US and Nato with their overwelming military power cant handle bunch of tribesmen (less than 20,000with the best estimate). With billions of borrowed dollars from China, warmongers wish to tackle a nation that 10 times larger than Iraq and Afghanistan put together. Majority of Iranians are Shia muslim which means dieing for religious cause and defending their nation is considered martyrdom.

Now, there is not a single proof Iran is producing or intending to produce nuclear bomb. Russia has it right, by saysing Russia has more to loose to an Iranian regime with nuclear arsenal than any one else considering their southern states are all muslims and a bit of support from a daring Iran can make hell for Russia. Russian leaders have repeatedly said Iran is not producing nuclear bomb. Now, where the neocons get their info. Assuming from the same fabricated laptop smugled out of Iran by MKO Terrorist cult.
Iran has not attacked any country in the last 200 years, unlike Israel with over 200 nuclear bombs have attacked it neighbours in the last short 60 years more than one wish to remember. Even, Margaret Thacher mentioned Israel was ready to use nuclear bomb against it neighbours in 1980 (when she was British PM).
The Iranian nuclear technology has become a political issue in the hands of Neo-cons and Israel. Israel wish to continue having hegemony in the middle east, now with Mubarak is gone, the Iran bashing has become more forefront of conversations amongst war mongers.

Posted by: abraham3 | February 16, 2011 4:56 PM | Report abuse

Well said abraham3,

To this day, neither Rubin, nor the lunatic Bolton, have a shred of evidence that Iran has a nuclear weapons program. In fact, when the 2007 NIE came out, Bolton tried to argue that it's denial of an Iranian nuclear weapons program was proof that one existed.

Try to figure that one out. Bolton, you might remember, is famous for insisting that it's not up to intelligence agencies to make conclusions from intelligence (that this should be reserved for policy makers like himself) and that the IAEA's role is not to be an independent body, but to serve the policies of the UN.

He said the same about the CIA with respect to the government.

Moving on to Jennifer's rant:

"In other words, neither the administration's touted sanctions nor a computer virus has slowed the Iranian regime's quest for nuclear weapons."

Jennifer's argument is absurd to say the least. The elephant in the room that Jennifer ignores is that if the IAEA were there to report on the replacement of damaged centrifuges, then it wasn't in relation to a nuclear weapons program, or they would have reported the existence of one.

The fact that Jennifer does not mentions is that Natanz in completely monitored by IAEA inspectors.

As for bonkers Bolton, how ironic is it that a man who openly decries intelligence agencies for reporting facts, should criticize Mossad for being a propaganda agency?

It's almost sad to watch him demanding that the US should offer "both overt and covert assistance to opposition groups willing to accept it." when the only groups willing to accept it are terrorist groups like the MEK and Jundula.

Posted by: Shingo1 | February 16, 2011 7:03 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: skipsailing28 | February 16, 2011 12:27 PM

Cynical and uninformed is no way to go through life fellahs.


Take your own advice Skip...and try contributing to the discussion next time.

Posted by: Shingo1 | February 16, 2011 7:05 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: Natstural | February 16, 2011 2:31 PM

Just because they replaced the PLCs does not mean they are not vulnerable to attacks.


Of course not, but the fact they have been attacked before means it's far less likely to happen a second time and that there will be protections and redundancies implemented to offset any such attack.

Posted by: Shingo1 | February 16, 2011 7:08 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: RitchieEmmons | February 16, 2011 2:01 PM

I'll add that anyone who brings up "yellowcake" in regards to their opposition to the Iraq war has automatically lost the argument.


You tell em Ritchie. This is a fact free zone and don't anyone forget it.

Posted by: Shingo1 | February 16, 2011 7:55 PM | Report abuse

Can you imagine if God forbids the US or Israelis nuclear sites were attacked by computer virus and were carried out by Iran. Well, we all know the answer, Iran would have been levelled in a split second.
It is widely believed the computer virus that attacked Iranian nuclear sites were originated from Israel with help from US, Britain, and Germany, according to news media. Iran did not react to this act of war with any response, other than repaired the damage and continued their work. Now, Israeli politicians and some US war mongers, including Jennifer Rubin have audacity to call Iran a treat and terrorist country. Don't you think if the Bushehr nuclear site built by Russian had been damaged, how many innocent people would have lost their life. Rubin; don't you think this was act of terror and war on innocent people who hapened to live in that area (Persian Gulf countries)?

Posted by: abraham3 | February 16, 2011 8:02 PM | Report abuse

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