This Iranian nuke deal keeps getting better and better!

Via Politico.

 

No specifics, nothing written, perhaps not even anything that Iran and the international negotiating partners say as one—that’s the most to expect out of the nuclear talks now running up against the deadline in Switzerland, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said Friday.

But even concluding this round of talks with that level of ambiguity, Hammond said, would count as a significant success. And he thinks they’ll get it.

H/T to Ace, who also has this terrific post about France even recognizing what a shit sandwich Obama is telling them to take a bite of.

In the comments yesterday, Bill asked a question:

I’m curious to hear XBRADTC, your reason for seeing Iran as any real threat to us.

Reasons for Iran BEING a regional power:
1. More people
2. More industrial capacity
3. A culture that goes MUCH further than “a bunch of nomadic shepherds in the Desert”
4. a Solid national Identity which WASN’T carved out of the carcass of the Ottoman Empire.

Reasons Against:
1. They say ugly things all the time to gin up domestic and regional support.
2. They are actively engaged in supplanting Shia’a Islam as the dominant creed in the region over Sunni Islam. (The Islam that DAESH and Al Quaeda support).
3. They REALLY don’t like the USA. (Big surprise, we REALLY don’t like them either).
4: They ACT like a regional power. (Kinda like the US did with Mexico).
5. (the big one) They have the capacity to build a nuclear weapon and there is not a damn thing we can do to stop that short of nuclear genocide or an invasion and occupation of a fiercely nationalist country with 77 million people who will ALL hate us.

If I were in charge of Iran, I WOULD WANT A NUKE TOO. Because it’s the ONE guarantor of territorial and national sovereignty that even the USA cannot afford to ignore. Saddam didn’t have one. And if he HAD, and had the means to deliver it to NYC, I doubt Operation Iraqi Freedom would have happened.

So what are your alternatives? Short of an invasion that would take every asset in our inventory to deal with and probably require a draft for manpower to deal with the rest of our obligations? I’m open to suggestions. I have no more love of the Mullahs than you do. But I’d like to hear a clear, specific and detailed counter-strategy to limited containment.

I think Iran should be a regional power, for the very reasons Bill listed. I would love to see a stable, productive Iran as a positive influence on stability in the region.  I’m not even terribly concerned with their status as a theocracy. We’ve managed to get along reasonably well with other theocratic states. Indeed, if the 1979 capture of our embassy and the hostage taking of our personnel were a one time incident, I’d be prepared to forgive, if not forget.

But Iran has a thirty plus year record of using terror against any and all who are not its vassals. They blew up a Jewish cultural center in Buenos Ares! They are also, of course, the force behind Hezbollah, which itself has a long history of violence against Americans and our interests.  And as Esli noted in his response to Bill’s question, there’s an awful lot of American blood on Iranian hands. For instance, as up-armored Humvees in Iraq were able to defeat simple IEDs, Iranian supplied Explosively Formed Penetrators were used to kill our troops.

As to Iranian desire to have nuclear weapons, I’m against proliferation just on general grounds. Regarding Iran specifically, the deterrent effect of an Iranian weapon would certainly allow them to be far more obnoxious on the international stage than they already  are. Worse still, it will lead to further proliferation. The only question becomes, who would be the next country to have nuclear arms, with Saudi Arabia the likely winner of that race. They would probably simply purchase them from Pakistan. If you proliferate enough, the probability of someone actually using nuclear weapons begins to approach 1. That is not to say that New York or Los Angeles would be the target, but one problem with nuclear wargaming has always been shown to be entanglement and escalation. Once one weapon has been used, it is a virtual certainty others will be, and who knows where that will end? While my first concern is always for the safety and well being of the United States and her people, I also would generally like to not see any major metropolitan area vanish in a brilliant flash of light. Not even our enemy’s.

As to what we can do, let’s start with what we shouldn’t have done. We shouldn’t have legitimized Iran’s nuclear program by negotiating with them, particularly since the “goals” of this program are farcical.

Aside from that, there is a wide array of options we could have, and can still undertake. First, we should have provided at least moral support during the Green Revolution of 2009. It would have been nice if the average Iranian could have heard (via VOA or other information sources) that the United States supported them and was not their enemy.

Other non-kinetic options include an array of economic sanctions. The sanction regime until recently in place was surprisingly effective.  Competent diplomacy could have made them even more effective, even to the point of being draconian.

Were we really interested in turning up the heat, we would have vastly increased our domestic oil production, enacted legislation allowing the export of oil, and then imposed an embargo, or even blockade, on Iranian oil exports.

We could also have undertaken covert actions to undermine the ayatollah’s regime through funding of internal dissidents.

Finally, we could undertake military action to deny Iran its nuclear program. Even short of an invasion and occupation, quite a bit could be done to thwart the Iranian’s progress. There is quite a bit of infrastructure that is quite vulnerable, even if major portions of their program is at hardened sites. Electrical generation and transmission, critical to centrifuge operation, is difficult to harden.  Targeting key personnel in the program is another option.

While I’ve listed options as a spectrum, a truly effective effort to deny Iran would fuse these elements together.

Instead, we’re bullying our allies into joining an agreement that isn’t even worth the paper it won’t be written down on!

Would you like to play a game? A map of predicted nuclear targets in the US

There’s two scenarios mapped out, a 500 warhead target list, and a 2000 warhead target list.

http://img.4plebs.org/boards/tg/image/1376/37/1376372253480.gif

Click the link to see the full sized map.

You’ll notice the targeting varies significantly between the two. That’s because there are two basic types of nuclear wars. Let’s address the 2000 warhead scenario first. You’ll notice three really big clusters of weapons in Montana, North Dakota and intersection of Wyoming, Colorado and Nebraska. That just happens to be where the vast majority of our Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles are. Such a targeting scheme is known as a Counter-Force scheme. The idea is to destroy our ability to use our ICBMs against the USSR.

In the 500 warhead scenario, while there are a goodly number of purely military targets, most predicted impacts are on civilian targets, such as state capitols and industrial and population centers. This scheme is known as Counter-Value. The idea is to hold at risk the truly most important resource of the nation, its people.

The Collapse of the INF

The 1987 Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty was the first treaty to eliminate an entire class of nuclear weapons from the arsenals of the US and Russia. “Trust buy verify” was Reagan’s catchphrase to describe the treaty. In the early 1980s, Soviet deployment of intermediate ranged weapons such as the SS-20 missile lead to US deployment of Pershing II missiles as well as Ground Launched Cruise Missiles. The extremely short time of flight of SS-20 and Pershing II was seen as destabilizing, and the theory of a limited nuclear exchange in Europe being limited to Europe was widely discredited. By eliminating intermediate range forces, with both the Soviet Union and the US instead relying on intercontinental forces, the Mutual Assured Destruction theory of deterrence was actually strengthened. This led to a measurable decrease in tension between the superpowers.

With the successful implementation of the INF treaty, sufficient trust between the superpowers was built that allowed other treaties to move forward, such as the Conventional Forces in Europe agreement.

For many years, INF has been held aloft by both the political right and the left as a model of  successful negotiation by the West with the East.

Today, a resurgent Russia is de facto discarding the INF treaty.

The United States has concluded that Russia violated a landmark arms control treaty by testing a prohibited ground-launched cruise missile, according to senior American officials, a finding that was conveyed by President Obama to President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia in a letter on Monday.

It is the most serious allegation of an arms control treaty violation that the Obama administration has leveled against Russia and adds another dispute to a relationship already burdened by tensions over the Kremlin’s support for separatists in Ukraine and its decision to grant asylum to Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor.

At the heart of the issue is the 1987 treaty that bans American and Russian ground-launched ballistic or cruise missiles capable of flying 300 to 3,400 miles. That accord, which was signed by President Ronald Reagan and Mikhail S. Gorbachev, the Soviet leader, helped seal the end of the Cold War and has been regarded as a cornerstone of American-Russian arms control efforts.

And why shouldn’t Putin disregard the treaty? The Obama administration has already conceded that they will do little or nothing to punish Russia.

As a practical matter, the US cannot simply reinvent the Pershing II and GLCM systems. First, that would be enormously expensive. Secondly, we would have to find a European ally  willing to host such systems. Even in the coldest days of the Cold War, it was extraordinarily unpopular with large swaths of the European electorate. Today there simply would be no western European nation willing to host such weapons. And it’s not like the Obama administration would be willing to put forth the diplomatic effort to convince any that hosting them would be in their best interests.

There is on possible reply the US could make that, while expensive, is quite feasible. After 1992, the US removed nuclear weapons from the inventory of all but the strategic missile submarine force. The nuclear tipped weapons such as the Tomahawk were retired.

But with some infrastructure effort, and a good deal of expensive training, US naval forces could quickly establish a credible intermediate range nuclear threat to Russia.

Another possibility is that the Army Tactical Missile System, a short ranged guided ballistic missile system, could have its range extended. It was deliberately designed to fall well short of the 500km range threshold of INF. Coupled with a program to develop a nuclear warhead, it could provide a response to continued Russian development of intermediate ranged ballistic missile systems.

Neither system would be particularly technically challenging. Only politically.

MIRV’d

When I saw Dave Cenciotti’s post on this clip of Russian ICBM reentry vehicles impacting the Kura Range, I was planning on sharing a wealth of information on the engineering of a warhead bus in deploying warheads to independent targets, as well as decoys and other penetration aids.

But life got in the way, so all you get is the clip, and just a bit of commentary.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1WagAKBuc_o&w=448&h=252&hd=1]

ICBM warheads reach a top velocity of around Mach 25, but they also decelerate as they return from space. The earliest US reentry vehicle, the Mk4, used a blunt body for best heat disipation and to fit the relatively large physics package. That blunt shape meant the Mk4 was actually subsonic by the time it reached the surface.