As readers of this blog know, Iran seems headed for a war with either the USA, the Israelis or both nations. Previous blogs have documented this slow, but relentless dance toward conflict as all diplomatic efforts have failed to convince Iran to give up its nuclear weapons program. A recent blog detailed the judgment of the respected Stratfor Intelligence report that such a war is starting to look inevitable. While everyone knows about the open statement of Iran’s President Ahmadinejad to “wipe Israel off the map,” we need to recall that Iran regards the USA as the “Great Satan” and the Israelis as merely the “Little Satan.” This argues that Iran would also desire to use its new nuclear weaponry to attack the USA as well as the Israelis.

There is no need for Iran to develop long-range ICBMs to attack the USA with nuclear weapons. Iran will be able to attack the USA with nuclear weapons as soon as it has them. It can deliver them via merchants ships smuggling nuclear weapons in their cargo holds. Iran has been trying to perfect its ability to smuggle clandestine cargoes to other nations by delivering shiploads of smuggled weaponry to Hezbollah and/or Hamas. A previous blog discussed the Israeli interception of one such Iranian smuggling ship, but others have successfully smuggled weapons shipments to their intended destinations. With today’s system of containerized cargo vessels, Iran could deceitfully transship a nuclear warhead via an innocent, third-party vessel inside a cargo container and then detonate it once it reaches a US port city. For this reason, Iran poses a nuclear threat to the USA as well as to the Israelis. While President Obama tried to find a diplomatic avenue to stopping Iran’s nuclear program, I think he is now realizing that Iran is not going to be deterred in its nuclear ambitions. Obama’s political career is tied to the outcome of Iran’s nuclear program. If Iran were to develop nuclear weapons and it detonated a smuggled nuclear device in a U.S. port city, Obama’s political career would be “toast” because he had not launched a pre-emptive military strike vs. Iran’s nuclear program when he had the chance. Indeed, there would likely be motions to impeach him in Congress for neglecting national security.

Is there any chance that Iran will give up its nuclear ambitions? Apparently not. The first link and second link below contain reports by both Al Jazeera and the Wall Street Journal (two very different sources) that Iran is “secretly” arranging to import 1,350 tons of uranium from Kazakhstan because, as the WSJ put it, “Tehran appears to be running out of the material, which it needs to feed its uranium enrichment program.” Iran is clearly “stiffing” the West via endless negotiations while it secretly seeks to ramp up its nuclear program, with a big buy of more uranium. Sanctions will be useless in stopping Iran’s nuclear program because Russia, China and other nations will circumvent any such sanctions.

Iran has a very loyal ally in Hezbollah and it seems that Hamas is becoming as radicalized as Hezbollah in Iran’s corner. Syria has been allied to Iran as well, but Iran is wondering whether Syria will join the fight against Israel if open war breaks out. Syria has memories of several losses in fighting the Israelis. It is also hoping to re-take the Golan Heights by diplomacy so it doesn’t have to fight to gain back that strategic ground. In August, 2000, I stood at the base of the Golan Heights while in Israeli territory and I thought that Israel “would have to be crazy to ever give back such strategic heights to Syria.” Americans who have not stood at the base of the Golan Heights and looked up at them from northern Israel do not realize what a strategic launching platform for missiles the Golan Heights really are. Hostile missiles on the Golan Heights would threaten all of northern Israel…at least! As long as Syria thinks its diplomatic efforts to seize back the Golan Heights might succeed, it will be reluctant to wage a losing war to get them back. Iran knows this Syrian concern, and it is surely trying to convince Syria that Syria has a better chance of winning back the Golan Heights via war.

The third link gives an insight into the intense pressure Iran is placing on Syria to join Iran in a war against the Israelis.  It reports that Iran sent a massive delegation of Iranian military officials to Syria to make absolutely sure that nation will join a future war vs. Israel. Syria is crucial as it gives strategic depth to Hezbollah in southern Lebanon and Syria’s northern regions can receive Iranian weaponry and troops to reinforce the Hezbollah and Syrian troops who would be fighting Israeli troops on the front lines. Iran’s Defense Minister, General Vahidi, headed the Iranian delegation to Syria and stated that “The countdown for war is coming to its end…And we must get our strategic partnership in shape ahead of time.” Does that sound like there is any peaceful solution for this impending crisis?

There is a dark aspect to this situation which few will openly discuss; however, I’ll mention it. Syria’s leaders know that if they betray Iran by not joining it in a war with the Israelis, Iranian agents could very well use assassinations as a revenge strategy against Syrian leaders, so Syria’s leaders may determine that they are likely to personally survive a war against the Israelis (even if it is lost), but they are not likely to survive a refusal to join Iran in a war against Israel (regardless of the outcome). That would dictate a choice by Syria to join Iran’s war against the Israelis. Time is running out.