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  1. “Both of those American allies have competitive reasons for preferring to restrict Iran’s domestic nuclear energy program and to keep as much of Iran’s oil and natural gas as possible out of the world’s energy market. That additional supply would lower the prices paid for their own commodity exports”

    Fully agree. Speculating, a similar strategy was perhaps behind the Iraq War. Saddam Hussein had been threatening to break the OPEC cartel by flooding the market with Iraqi oil. He paid with his life and his country was up-ended, his oil infrastructure destroyed. I guess the current turnaround in Iran/US relations may be related to the growing realization that oil prices are probably never going to go down again, and that this may well have serious economic repercussions going forward, requiring a revisiting of age-old geopolitical strategy and tactics?

    Anyway, the IMF chimed in with some interesting words about oil some time ago, warning of ‘dramatic to downright implausible’ effects in case several key assumption about the future of oil and the global economy were to be wrong. Up to that point, discussion of problems with oil supply had been taking place mainly in the fringe.

    http://www.imf.org/external/pubs/ft/wp/2012/wp12256.pdf

    Excerpt:

    The scenarios developed in this paper highlight that the extent to which persistent oil scarcity could constrain global economic growth and current account imbalances depends critically on a small number of key factors. If, as in our baseline, the trend growth rate of oil output declined only modestly, and if the economy was adequately represented by a standard production function in capital, labor and oil, world output would eventually suffer, but the effect might not be dramatic. If the substitutability between oil and other factors of production was increasing in the oil price, the effect would be even smaller. But if the reductions in oil output were more in line with the more pessimistic studies in the scientific literature, the effects could be extremely large. The same could be true if, as
    claimed by several authors in the scientific literature, standard production functions miss important aspects of the economic role of oil under conditions of scarcity. We discussed three possibilities. First, if the economy attempted to substitute away from oil, it might encounter a lower limit of oil use dictated by entropy. Second, the contribution of oil to output could be much larger than its cost share, because oil is an essential precondition for the continued viability of many modern technologies. Third, the income elasticity of oil demand could be equal to one third as in some empirical studies, rather than one as in our model. And if two or more of these aggravating factors were to occur in combination,
    the effects could range from dramatic to downright implausible.

  2. And I would tackle another issue outside the box.

    Christians And catholics are a minority whose rights are ignored in the Mid East.

    So I would Grant ultimate décision making to the new Pope to résolve all territorial And religions issues between Israël And Palestine.

    The pope understand the issues in this part of the world as catholicism as roots in the région as well.

    That is it. 100 percent décision making power.

    It may sound Silly but I have had it looking at kids having no future.

    Then s Marshall like économic plan.

    Let us get pass this One too.

      1. First, let me preface this by saying that I have worked with and for Muslims, so what I write below does not apply in every specific case. Those Muslims whom I personally know have been good, upright, tolerant, kind and considerate individuals. Indeed, I had once worked for a Shiite Muslim who exemplified more Christian principle in his conduct than most people who call themselves Christians do. Nevertheless, the following applies broadly (but NOT in every individual case).

        Daniel is correct that Christians and Jews are being ruthlessly persecuted throughout the Middle East and in Africa. But no, neither Pope Francis nor the Ecumenical Patriarch of the Eastern Orthodox Church out of Constantinople have “got this” under control. In the recent attack at a Mall in Kenya, Muslim terrorists singled out Christian women and children, torturing them to death by vicious and heinous means. Dhimmitude against Christians and Jews is advocated in the Koran. The Islamic scriptures openly command subjugation or death for non-Muslims. Unlike Judeo-Christian, Buddhist, Taoist and other religions, it is the one religion that demands violence against those who are not its adherents. Northern Africa and the Middle East were all Christian in the late Roman Empire, and the pagan worship of the Emperor with its child sacrifices and its rampant sexual hedonism was broken by Christianity. When Mohammed set across the sands of Arabia from Medina to Mecca, that all changed. By the mid-700s Muslims had invaded all the way to Tours, France, to be turned back by Charles Martel. The Crusades around AD 1000 were a response of the Christian west to the persecutions being perpetrated by the Muslims against Christians in the Middle East. And by the mid-1500s the incursion of the Ottoman Turks was defeated at the Battle of Lepanto, and while they had invaded almost to Vienna, Europe was saved by its Christian defenders. This violence by Muslims has continued unabated to the present day with even the recent beheading of a British soldier in England by a Muslim fanatic.

        Neither Iran nor President Barack Hussein Obama are to be trusted. While Iran is certainly less bad than the Wahhabi terrorism financed out of Saudi Arabia, its leaders have openly advocated that Israel be pushed into the sea, and if it weren’t for Israel’s undeclared nuclear weapons capability, that would surely have happened.

        That said, if it weren’t for the violence inherent in Islam, I would be all in favor of nations having their own fuel enrichment and reprocessing facilities. But I fear that regardless of words to the contrary, Iran will continue till it possesses nuclear weapons capability, and unlike Israel it will use such capability. Furthermore, I find it rather odd that everyone is focusing on its enrichment while ignoring its IR-40 heavy water reactor at Arak that can be used to provide plutonium.

        Lastly, I have nothing against the Iranian people or the Arab people. But I do have something against a belief system that demands Dhimmitude and I do have something against a President who finances the very terrorists in Syria who attacked us on 9-11. What an irony for Vladimir Putin, President of Russia and a former KGB agent, to unite with Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill to plead for the cause of Christians being murdered while our own President issues platitudes of “peace, love and flowers” with murderous thieves while sending assault rifles to our enemies (but denying them to our own citizens), and making plans to attack a sovereign government without Congressional approval (though he did back off and eventually go to Congress only after he was pressured – not even “evil” George Bush was this incompetent).

        OK, enough of my ranting.

        1. Paul,
          Being Christian, I have problems with few of your opinions.

          …Christians and Jews are being ruthlessly persecuted throughout the Middle East and in Africa…
          That is wrong regarding Iran.
          Religious minorities; Jews, Catholics, Zoroastrians (an ancient belief), Armenians
          have extra representatives (~2% of votes = ~5% of the seats) in Iranian parliament (Jewish 3, Catholics 4 seats).

          …violence by Muslims has continued unabated to the present day …
          This violence against the west was practical absent until Israel started it’s occupation of Palestinian areas (1967) and was greatly enhanced when Israel started stealing land from and suppression of the Palestinians in the eighties. All the while supported by US and other western powers.
          The present violence is mainly a reaction to that ongoing suppression and stealing.

          …Neither Iran nor President Barack Hussein Obama are to be trusted…
          Recent middle-east history shows that US is the evil not to be trusted party. Especially Bush which even started a war against Iraq simply because his folks invented a threat.
          I assume the real reason behind is, that Bush wanted to show his father that he could do better (being ex-alcoholic, he had to compensate his inferior complex against his father)….
          That war gave Al-Qaeda the opportunity to gain foothold in Iraq, as Saddam kept them out because those folks hate dictators such as Saddam and Assad.

          …its leaders have openly advocated that Israel be pushed into the sea…
          That is a translation error cultivated in the west. Iran’s leaders predicted that, if Israel would continue with the suppression of the Palestinians (and stealing land), Israel will be pushed into the sea.

          …if it weren’t for Israel’s undeclared nuclear weapons capability, that would surely have happened…
          Without nuclear, Israel’s military capability is already superior as shown by the wars.
          Israel’s nuclear stimulates the creation of Arab nuclear if Israel goes on with it’s suppression policy, ignoring UN resolutions.
          It is not clear whether that is bad.
          Since Islamic Pakistan got the bomb, India and Pakistan avoided escalating hostilities into a full war. So the war on the Siachen glacier went on for decades (>10,000 death) without escalating. Leaders realize that atomic war may take their own lives…

          …the violence inherent in Islam …
          When you put up objective criteria, you will see that the ‘Christian’ nations behaved far more violent and aggressive in the last thousand / hundred years.

    1. Daniel
      ,i> Christians And catholics are a minority whose rights are ignored in the Mid East.
      That does not apply so much for Iran.

  3. I dont know. Perhaps Ive kinda lurched to the right in the last few years for some reason but Im a bit uneasy here. I could run through the standard disclaimers (peace, love, peoples, cultures etc…) but let me just out with it:

    These sudden cooperative overtures by the Iranian government seem directly related to the Syrian situation and recent PR success by Putin. And nothing else.

    I dont think the Syrian mess went the way it should have. I think we should have been more decisive in helping the right Syrian rebel factions early on. I think we, and the world, should have at least symbolically overreacted to any reported use of chemical weapons.

    With respect to refugees, human rights and terrorism I think a lot of this hand wringing and foot dragging on our part has the potential to come back and bite us on the backside later.

    Beyond that im not sure what this change in rhetoric is about or if it is even close to sincere. I imagine we will find out soon.

    1. For what it’s worth, I’m still not sure it wasn’t a rebel group after all which launched the chemical attack. There was a Belgian journalist (an academic and accomplished reporter/researcher of middle eastern affairs) who escaped from having been captured by the rebels a few weeks ago, who claims that he is convinced it was a rebel group that launched the chemical attack, not Assad. He said he overheard a rebel telephone conversation confirming the rebel source of the chemical attack. It might be logical. After all: Assad seems to be winning the war, so why would he put everything at risk by using chemical weapons? It didn’t make sense from the outset. Additionally, the reports would have it that the chemical attack was followed by devastating regime artillery bombardment, which seems to me kind of dumb. Aren’t chemical weapons intended to prevent collateral damage? Why use them and then use artillery bombardment on top of it? It seems possible to me that the rebels did the chemical attack, and the regime responded with artillery fire targeting the possible rebel takeover of the area following the rebel launched chemical attack. But what do I know?

      in any case, in Syria, I think fairly early on it was clear that it was going to be either Assad or Jihadism, with no third option, whatever the West would/could do.

      Concerning the role of the West in Syria, I remember reading that the CIA was already in Syria almost from day 1, in order to achieve exactly what you suggested: trying to make sure weapons were reaching the ‘right’ rebel groups.

      1. Probably both sides have used them, but most likely only one side manufactured them, at least initially. Regardless the weapons have already shown up in the hands of terrorists in Turkey. Reports are all over the place on those.

        Assad was not “winning the war” with rebel factions moving into Damascus neighborhoods. At best it was a festering stalemate.

        There are also around or over twenty rebel factions in that conflict. So an increased US presence would have been a good idea just on the monitoring side of things. Russia has been shipping billions in arms to Assad throughout this.

        This whole thing has the feel of extensive clandestine operations and media manipulation. The Russians are deeply involved in it and I would be very wary of anything supporting their position or tangential attempts at distraction.

        1. John T
          The rebels were already long time in Damascus suburbs.

          If you look to the military situation in the last months; Assad’s army made small, but important, strategic progresses (e.g. blocking rebel supply routes from Lebanon).

          Btw
          Who is delivering weapons and munitions to the rebels?

          1. As there are over 20 different factions – nearly everyone to some extent I suppose. Iran, Hezbollah, the Russians, North Korea and China all arm the Assad regime. So…

            As we both can agree the situation is a huge waste of resources and involves terrible human suffering. Which outcome – a continued Assad reign or a new regime – would better put an end to that?

            I dont think many of you have thought it though.

    2. John T
      …cooperative overtures by the Iranian government seem directly related to the Syrian situation …
      Iranian people voted this new president which said in his campaign that he would improve relations with the west. So he is fulfilling his election promise.
      And he used the unique opportunity, that the stalemate in Syria offers.

      Iran had similar initiatives (though more ‘childish’) but US response was such that Iran could only stop (it would loose its pride / surrender) and resume its fierce language.

      The US positive response is closely related to the Syrian situation.
      No solution is possible without involving Iran. Especially since Russia’s position and the reserved attitude of almost all W-European countries, made bombing Assad out of office no longer a viable option.

      I deeply hope that US will continue to act positive towards Iran after the Syrian situation is solved.
      Being Iran, I would drag the Syrian situation along and along until the sanctions are gone.
      Being afraid that US (following Israel) may somehow resume its hostilities against Iran when the Syrian issue is solved.

  4. Joris van Dorp wrote:
    in any case, in Syria, I think fairly early on it was clear that it was going to be either Assad or Jihadism, with no third option, whatever the West would/could do.

    We have seen that the various leaders in the region who have been ousted from power by the rebel forces of the “Arab Spring” were no angels. But their replacements have shown shown themselves to be even worse, especially with regards to religious minorities.

  5. With regards to Syria, I was never convinced that Assad used chemical weapons. I really don’t see why they would do it, as far as I can tell there’s very little to gain from it and a massive amount to lose for Assad (think massive air attacks from foreign forces crippling his military and ability to govern).
    The rebels however would have a lot to gain from a false flag operation involving them dressing themselves as Assad’s forces and deploying chemical weapons. If it had worked then Assad would have at least had his ability to resist more or less destroyed by foreign intervention, potentially even bringing him down outright and leaving a power vacuum for the rebel factions to jump into.
    Don’t get me wrong, I’m no supporter of Assad. I simply see the idea of his forces using chemical weaponry as illogical at best.

    I for one am glad that the west and the Iranians may be opening up to each other. I served in Iraq and I hated that a lot of the ancient sites were being destroyed or damaged in the name of some political “great game”. If Iran and the west get on side, then it’s potentially one less powder keg to go off and end up getting me called back up! (Selfish, I know).

  6. Enrichment is the only difficult step in making a uranium bomb. Any resolution that leaves enrichment capacity in Iran puts American cities at risk.

    Enrichment is a tiny fraction of the cost of a nuclear kwh. Laser enrichment will make the cost even lower. If every little country develops its own enrichment facility, (perhaps deep under ground), that raises the cost of commercial nuclear kwhs and delays the benefits of nuclear energy.

    Enrichment services for the world should be provided by a competitive market of large stable countries under full UN oversight.

    I do not worry about an Iranian bomber drooping a bomb on NYC. I worry about an untraceable photocopier delivered to an upper floor office of the new world trade center blowing up with 30kt when the technician plugs it in.

    1. @Bill Hannahan

      We’ll have to disagree. The key reason that a nation like Iran is interested in its own enrichment capability is that it has a deep historical reason for not wanting to be dependent on “the international community”. It is also quite discriminatory to to say that this valuable product should only be provided by “large stable countries”. Who gets to decide? Does the Netherlands qualify as a large country? Does China, India, Italy, Germany, Japan or Brazil qualify as stable? How many different prime minsters has Japan had in the past dozen years?

      Why would you say that adding more suppliers of a commodity would lead to higher prices? Economically speaking, the most common way to increase the market price of a commodity is to artificially restrict the supply by preventing new suppliers from entering the market.

      Competitive products are not sold on a cost-plus basis; they are priced based on the balance between supply and demand.

    2. “I do not worry about an Iranian bomber drooping a bomb on NYC. I worry about an untraceable photocopier delivered to an upper floor office of the new world trade center blowing up with 30kt when the technician plugs it in.”

      What exactly would a real-world regime or terrorist group (as opposed to a comic-book supervillain) have to gain from anonymously nuking an American city?

          1. Who uses them? I remember the US did experiment with relatively tiny weapons like the “Davy Crockett” but as far as I know, all weapons of that size were abandoned as unworkable or impractical.

          2. Another though has just crossed my mind Bas, how difficult is it to build a nuclear weapon of that small size? The early weapons were not small. Can we really assume that everyone who has the knowledge of how a nuclear weapon works can build one to the same standards as a nation like the US or Russia? The way I see it, the smaller the weapon, the more difficult it is to build.

          3. @Gareth Faircloth

            I understand the standard Nuclear weapon of the US to fit in a conical re-entry vehicle 22 inches at the base and 5 feet in height. That was built to deliver the equivalent of 1/3 of a million tons of TNT.

            It’s hilarious to me that it isn’t obvious to everyone that to do more work with less infrastructure we should step up 6 orders of magnitude and bring the strong force into play. For me it’s one step below a Di-Lithium crystal blinking on a starship navigator’s dashboard.

            What is the barrel of oil equivalent of 1/3 of a million tons of TNT? That’s the rub.

  7. that ancient country has a lot to offer with its well-educated, hard-working population of 70 million people …

    Actually, many of the well-educated, hard-working people left Iran beginning in 1979, because they did not want to live in a country run by a bunch of religious fanatics.

    The last American that I can remember who tried for a constructive engagement with Iran is Robert McFarlane. I also seem to recall that the whole thing didn’t end very well.

    1. @Brian Mays

      I recommend reading a few more books about Iran – one that comes to mind is “Reading Lolita in Tehran”. You are a smart enough man to avoid making generalizations based on demonization campaigns.

      I’ll grant that there was a substantial diaspora, but that did not empty the country of its young people or its human potential.

      1. Rod – I don’t base my comments on “demonization campaigns”; rather, I base it on actually talking to well-educated, hard-working Iranians. This includes people who remember what Tehran was like during the days of the Shah. It also includes people who have very good insight into Iran’s youth culture, from both a personal and a scholarly perspective.

        Your book is a bit dated in that it covers only the period from 1979-1997. About two-thirds of Iran’s urban population is under 30. That means that they weren’t even born in 1979, and most weren’t even teenagers by 1997.

        One of the people I’ve talked to is a professor who, in addition to being Persian, specializes in Iran’s modern youth culture. She has written a book about it, which focuses in particular on Iran’s “sexual revolution” and reasons why the young well-educated, hard-working Iranians don’t exactly support or conform with the country’s government. Perhaps you should read it. It seems to me to be more relevant to what is happening in Iran today than the book that you have suggested.

  8. Rod
    My compliments you spend valuable space & time to this important development.

    Last time Iran reached out to US, the haughty reaction from Bush destroyed all before it could take off. Obama made an infinite better start!

    There is a real long way to go:
    The CIA organized the 1953 coup, which started 25 years of oppression, while having office inside the US Embassy in Tehran. So it was logical that the Iranians saw US embassy staff as a deadly threat in 1979 after the people regained power.

    Since then:
    – US and Israel actively supported Saddam Hussein’s invasion. Delivering money, intelligence, training, advice, weapons incl chemical and biological despite UN embargo. Blocking a UN resolution that condemned Iraq’s use of chemical weapons, etc.
    These deliveries allowed Saddam to use ~100,000 chemical munitions. The 8 year war took ~1million Iranian lives (Iranians told me ~2million when I was there).

    – US shot down a regular Iranian airliner (290 death) from a US ship that was in Iranian territorial water, while that airliner that took off at a nearby airfield was climbing to cruise altitude.

    – US invaded Iran’s neighbors Iraq and Afghanistan, built bases all around Iran and flies spy drones all over Iran.

    – Iranian nuclear scientists were murdered. It stopped when Iran started with revenge, showing again that brute force is Iran’s only defense option.

    – (US supported) Israel threatened to bomb Iran.

    As Israel has nuclear bombs, it is understandable Iran wants to end that asymmetrical situation.
    Especially since:
    – the Iraq-Iran war showed US had no problems to support the use of mass destruction (chemical) weapons against civilian Iranian population.

    – Israel (and US) showed that they have no problem invading other countries.

    These continuing hostilities are a pity as:
    – Iran is one of the most democratic Islamic countries in the middle-east.
    About 5% (14) of the 290 seats in parliament are reserved for non-Muslim minorities that constitute ~2% of the voters (a.o. Catholics 4, Jewish 3). Parliament has all normal rights. Except that the highest religious leader has to agree to all important decisions, and candidate members are screened (to prevent a new coup).

    – Iran is the most developed Islamic country with a hard working population in the middle-east.
    In my experience it is about the only country there, where people accurately keep their appointments and come at the agreed time.

    – Iran never attacked another country.

    I sincerely hope that US and Iran will succeed in bridging this long history of hostilities.

    Believe that US unconditional support for an Israël that continues to steal land from and suppress Palestinians, may be an important stumble block. As that is emotional unacceptable for straight moslim people in the middle-east (it was a factor in the 9/11 attacks).

  9. @Rod

    Who gets to decide? Does the Netherlands qualify as a large country?

    I would limit it to England, France, China, Russia and the US. Any country that is denied enrichment service by all of these countries probably should not have enrichment capability.

    Why would you say that adding more suppliers of a commodity would lead to higher prices?

    The cost of building a hardened enrichment industry deep under ground will buy a lot more enrichment capacity in a free market.

    Economically speaking, the most common way to increase the market price of a commodity is to artificially restrict the supply by preventing new suppliers from entering the market.

    Would the world be a better place if each country manufactured its own cars, trucks, airliners, drugs etc. In a free market there is an optimum number of suppliers for each product, determined by supply and demand. I would not limit the number of suppliers.

    My recommendation is to allow any industry or group of investors, including Iranian investors, to build enrichment facilities in any or all of these countries and compete in an open market. We could have 50 enrichment companies in each of these five countries, but that would probably be way beyond the optimum number determined by a free market.

    Iran and all other countries could buy reactor grade enriched uranium on a free market with a level playing field at the lowest price as long as they allowed the UN to verify that it is used in commercial reactors.

    Competitive products are not sold on a cost-plus basis; they are priced based on the balance between supply and demand.

    I agree, my recommendation accommodates that.

    1. @Bill Hannahan

      Why should any country trust that they would be given free access to their property if it is forced to be located in another country, specifically because of a perceived need to control the asset?

      Why should Iran trust any of the countries that you listed? At least two of them have a long history of interference in their internal and external economic interests, specifically in the area of energy production. Do you have any idea what it would feel like to have a huge national asset be exploited by foreign corporations that rested their claim on a piece of paper signed by a long ago dictator? Can you imagine how you would react if the governments in which those corporations were headquartered conspired in a covert action to overthrow a democratically elected government just because that elected government finally took action to right the festering wrong? One more component of the legitimate beef built up over more than 2 decades of despotic rule by the installed dictator, who selfishly captured a large portion of the monetary gain produced as that national asset became more and more valuable on the world market.

      By the way, Iran already knows what it is like to be an investor in enrichment capacity that is located in other countries and controlled by their governments. It was one of the five countries that originally formed Eurodif in 1973.

      http://www.armscontrol.org/act/2006_01-02/JANFEB-IranEnrich

  10. @ George

    What exactly would a real-world regime or terrorist group (as opposed to a comic-book supervillain) have to gain from anonymously nuking an American city?

    What exactly would a real-world regime or terrorist group (as opposed to a comic-book supervillain) have to gain from anonymously attacking the World Trade Center?

    I think they enjoy seeing us spend billions of dollars each year playing defense, loosing our freedom and privacy. I suspect just seeing us take our shoes off at the airport makes them feel good.

    Would it be OK if the bombs exploded in Israel instead of the US?

    1. @Bill

      I think they enjoy seeing us spend billions of dollars each year playing defense, loosing our freedom and privacy. I suspect just seeing us take our shoes off at the airport makes them feel good.

      History shows that a couple of jet fuel bomb suffices if that is the goal. Actually, history shows that we can be persuaded to waste TRILLIONS of dollars in response to an effort that required about $250,000 and a few months worth of planning.

  11. @Bill

    ..I would limit it to England, France, China, Russia and the US….
    Remind that the Dutch invented/developed the (cheaper) ultra-centrifuge enrichment technology. And had many years the only factory that used that technology at significant scale.

  12. @ Rod

    Why should any country trust that they would be given free access to their property if it is forced to be located in another country, specifically because of a perceived need to control the asset?

    It is quite common for countries and industries to own assets in other countries, but the only reason for Iran to build enrichment capacity in another country would be to receive the anticipated profits from that investment. They would be guaranteed access to enrichment services either way as long as they met the inspection standards, just as any other country would.

    Why should Iran trust any of the countries that you listed?

    Simply because they would have no other choice if it were up to me, I do not trust them.

    THOUGHT EXPERIMENT

    Imagine a universe in which the laws of physics were such that natural uranium could sustain a fast neutron chain reaction with a bare critical mass of 1kg. Any nation, terrorist group, or technically competent individual with access to uranium ore or sea water can extract natural uranium and make a nuclear bomb.

    Would you like to live in such a universe? Before 1945 no nation had that ability. As enrichment gets easier and cheaper that capacity becomes available to more people. Our universe moves closer to that universe.

    If a group of people band together and declare themselves a nation should they have nuclear bomb technology? What is the minimum number of people required to be a nation? Would the next Hitler, Sadam Hussein or Muammar Gaddafi have a right to this technology?

    Where do YOU draw the line Rod?

    1. @Bill Hannahan

      I don’t draw lines. Nature and technology have already drawn the lines.

      Fission exists. It is an amazingly energy dense power source. It has the potential to make the world a place where there is less and less gain to be had from fighting over resources because there is always plenty more for everyone.

      Anyone with the kind of reach and control of the three dictators that you mentioned already has access to everything needed to build bombs. The only thing that the rules that you are proposing would do is to make it a little more difficult and perhaps take a little more time. Is the added delay time really worth all that we are giving up by the additional burdens being placed on developing fission based power systems?

      1. The geni is out of the bottle. Bad people can use any technology to hurt their brothers.

        In the mean time those who are resource stricken can use the technology to better their conditions.

        Nuclear weapons thru enrichment ? Stale news like they say in finance.

      2. @Rod
        …less gain to be had from fighting over resources because there is always plenty more for everyone…
        That will be only temporary.
        If there is more, people will use more and more…

        And the problems regarding scarce material resources, etc. (while being eased somewhat as cheap energy implies cheaper mining) won’t go away.

    2. Bill,
      Where to draw the line?

      A sound criterion:
      Exclude all countries that attacked (started war to) other peaceful countries in the past 100years. Especially those that executed several attacks.

      As those countries clearly are not capable solving issues by negotiation, etc. And their leaders often think everything is allowed to reach targets to their (personal) benefits.

      Note that this criterion will include Iran, and exclude US, Israel, etc.

      Your criterion include countries that have shown to be not trustworthy at all!
      Of course these countries always have a good explanation for their unreliable aggressive behavior as they have good public relation managers.

      Afterwards those even managed the public impression regarding the 2003 invasion of US into Iraq, in such a way that those responsible for the fabrication of the fantasies that formed the motive, were not punished.

      The invasion was officially based on the fabricated idea that Iraq nearly possessed nuclear / mass destruction weapons and rockets that would bring those to W-Europe.
      That fabricated US fantasy killed >200,000 people.
      And those responsible for it in the US are not even punished!

      So it is quite logical that Iran seeks a defense force capable to defend itself against such an invasion.

  13. @Rod

    I don’t draw lines. Nature and technology have already drawn the lines.

    For 4 billion years life was regulated by starvation, disease, predation and exposure. These mechanisms produced a beautiful world filled with intricate life forms. It also produced unimaginable quantities of suffering after lifeforms developed nervous systems and pain sensors. Humans have actively suppressed these feedback control mechanisms with varying degrees of success, and human population has been expanding in somewhat open loop mode ever since.

    Rod, do you support;
    a. Going back to the natural lines as implied by your comment, by eliminating all technology and allowing human population to shrink back to a naturally sustainable number under natural law.
    b. Drawing new lines by imposing humane ethical feedback mechanisms to replace starvation, disease, predation and exposure.
    c. Allowing the process to proceed in open loop until spaceship earth is so depleted that the natural mechanisms are restored.
    d. ?

    Anyone with the kind of reach and control of the three dictators that you mentioned already has access to everything needed to build bombs.

    Obviously not true since none of the men I mentioned actually acquired nuclear weapons. Even half hearted efforts have increased the difficulty quite a bit, I am simply proposing much more rigorous controls. But I would give them the choice of opting out and living under the natural lines that you prefer, just as people lived 100,000 years ago, without any technology; it would be their choice.

    Is the added delay time really worth all that we are giving up by the additional burdens being placed on developing fission based power systems?

    I see no delay time for commercial nuclear power in my proposal. Nuclear kWh’s in Iran would be available sooner, cheaper and in much greater numbers if they spent all the money that went into their secret hardened enrichment facilities on construction of more commercial power reactors. Strict controls on weapons technology would create a better environment for peaceful nuclear applications.

    Rod, once again I notice you like to ask questions but talk around difficult questions. How about some direct in depth answers?

    1. Would you like to live in such a universe? (where nuclear weapons are so easy to build almost anyone can have one)
    2. If a group of people band together and declare themselves a nation should they have easy access to nuclear bomb technology?
    3. What is the minimum number of people required to be a nation?
    3a. Why does nationhood enable free access, or should everyone have free access?
    4. Rod, do you support;
    a. Going back to the natural lines as implied by your comment, by eliminating all technology and allowing human population to shrink back to a naturally sustainable number under natural law.
    b. Drawing new lines by imposing humane ethical feedback mechanisms to replace starvation, disease, predation and exposure.
    c. Allowing the process to proceed in open loop until spaceship earth is so depleted that the natural mechanisms are restored.
    d. ?

    5. Where do YOU draw the line Rod?

  14. Excellent post Rod. Yes, while not a fan of Obama, his noting the role of the US in installing a fascist syphilitic dictator over the will of the Iranians in 1953 was important to launch this discussion.

    If we role up the 1970s, the Shah and his advisers came up with a plan to build 21 reactors in that country.

    (personal asside: my room mate at George Washington University in 1977 was Iranian. From Tabriz — which made him an Azerbaijani Turk. He hated the Shat. of the 14,000 Iranian students in the DC area not one I can say confidently thought well of the Shah)

    Rod made the most salient point. Iranians, far better students of history than the average American politician, understands that *sovereignty* is key, especially in energy. They don’t want to be tied to the Russian’s supplying fuel to them any more than they want to rely on S. Arabia for 80% of the gasoline and diesel (people will be surprised about that but it’s true).

    They want to produce their own fuel from their own uranium mines, enrich it and burn it. Every country with a serious nuclear program wants to take advantage of what the NPT offers them: full enrichment and closing the fuel cycle. But they know the Israelis will simply never support that under any condition. Thus the building of ‘secret’ enrichment facilities and the *threat* of using them as WMD. I’ve always endorsed, and still do, the Iranian “POV” on this as it’s the only logical solution to their energy needs and…the threats they feel come from Israel because of Iran’s defense of Palestinian rights (incorrect or not, this is who they really feel).

    [I’m hoping Rod at some point, now that he has more time, looks the ‘strings’ attached to the 1-2-3 Agreements that tie a country’s nuclear development to the ‘say so’ of the the US Congress and the problems this causes.] China, S. Korea, Japan, all look for ways to end this neo-colonial relationship with regards to nuclear. Iran is simply looking ahead and trying to get out from all the ‘strings attached’ agreements.

    David Walters

  15. “If you haven’t found money at the root of every dispute – keep looking.”

    The Iran problem is not far off base from the previous Iraq problem, and oil isn’t the issue.
    When President Nixon closed the gold window in 1971, US Dollars were no longer redeemable for gold bullion. French President Charles DeGaulle’s original demand for redemption caused much of Europe to demand exchange.

    Nixon replaced a gold backed US Dollar with an oil backed US Dollar by cementing agreements with the Saudis to sell oil only in exchange for US Dollars. We call this the petrodollar. It has been the only sustenance for reserve currency status of the US Dollar.

    Saddam Hussein sought to sell oil for other currencies. Not for long.

    Iran and China have already agreed to oil sales in renminbi.
    Prediction: US / Iran political conflicts won’t resolve by diplomacy, only by replacement of either government.

    If this concept of Middle Eastern global currency diversity spreads, certainly two effects will dominate.

    1) Countries will have no economic demand for US Dollars, we simply don’t manufacture like we did in the 70s, many goods can be bought elsewhere. These unwanted US Dollars cause a currencty devaluation, or hyperinflation event when they are repatriated to the US. Commodity prices will soar as people exchange Trillions of repatriated devaluing dollars for hard assets. Evidence: Trend price of Gold in US Dollars and US Debt since 1971 to present.

    2) Oil, the lifeblood of the US economy will soar astronomically in price denominated in US Dollars.

    Middle Eastern people have long traded in gold, and generally do not like paper money as Western societies do for storing wealth.

    A monetary imbalance exists, as US deficit spending and astronomical debt levels cause the Treasury to borrow and the Federal Reserve to increase money supplies by the electronic printing press. Right now, Quantitative Easing (QE n+1) continues unabated at $85 B USD/ month or 1 Trillion per year in effective currency duilution irrespective of repatriation / international disputes.

    There’s a money problem here. And a good reason “food and energy” are excluded from Consumer Price Index figures – they are the canary in the coal mine.

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