The non-existence of Iranian weapons caches and the vastly exaggerated threat of Iran

Two good articles out today about Iran.  The first is by Gareth Porter as he does a nice bit of reporting on the virtually non-existent caches of weapons confiscated by Iraqi resistance groups that were supposedly provided by Iran (the nation we would so love to demonize).  He writes:

Based on weapons caches discovered over the past 15 months, the Mahdi Army has relied overwhelmingly on four types of heavy weapons: 60mm and 120mm mortars, 107mm rocket, and 57mm anti-tank missile.

Those are essentially the same mortars and rockets that have turned up in al Qaeda and Sunni insurgent weapons caches, suggesting that both groups have obtained their heavier weapons from the international arms market. In fact, 60mm and 120mm mortars were used by Sunni guerrillas in the very early months of the war against U.S. occupation troops.

A U.S. explosives expert, Maj. Marty Weber, confirmed in April 2007 that most 107mm rockets found in Iraq were Chinese-made. He claimed that Iran had repainted Chinese 60mm and 107mm rockets them and sold them on the “open market”.

However, Chinese, Yugoslav and Pakistani 107mm rockets have also been the weapon of choice of Taliban guerrillas in Afghanistan, according to U.S. military officers there.

The U.S. military has refrained from making any charges against Iran over the 107mm rockets found in Iraq, perhaps because it would support the conclusion that the Mahdi Army was buying weapons on the international market rather than obtaining them from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps.

U.S. officials tried to capitalise on the increased mortar and rocket attacks on the Green Zone and U.S. military headquarters last year to argue that they were the result of a rising tide of Iranian supply of such stand-off weapons — particularly 240mm rockets — to what the U.S. command calls “special groups” of Shiite militiamen.

One U.S. official, who insisted on being identified only as a “senior official”, told this writer in mid-September 2007 that rockets and mortars provided by Iran since the beginning of that year — and especially 240 mm rockets — were doing much greater damage because of their greater accuracy and power compared with the older Katyusha rockets — mostly from Iraqi stocks — that had been employed in attacking U.S. bases and the Green Zone in previous years.

But evidence from the U.S. command itself contradicts that dramatic narrative of a bold, new Iranian intervention in the war. A Multi-National Force – Iraq press release dated Jun. 1, 2007 reported that a cache of weapons had been found in an area from which Mahdi Army troops had fired rockets at the Green Zone. It did not claim any Iranian rockets or mortars in the cache but only 20 107mm rocket warheads, three fully assembled 107mm rockets and one 60mm mortar.

No 240mm rocket has been reported found in a Mahdi Army weapons cache over the past year, but a single warhead for a 240mm rocket was reported to have been found in Basra Apr. 19. No official claim has been made that it was manufactured in Iran, however.

The second article describes very nicely why Iran really isn’t much of a threat to the USA and shows how McCain exaggerates this “threat” very much for political purposes:

At the height of the Cold War, the Soviet Union had some 45,000 nuclear warheads. At the moment, Iran has none. But when Barack Obama said the obvious—that Iran does not pose the sort of threat the Soviet Union did— John McCain reacted as though his rival had offered to trade Ft. Knox for a sack of magic beans.

“Such a statement betrays the depth of Sen. Obama’s inexperience and reckless judgment,” exclaimed McCain. “These are very serious deficiencies for an American president to possess.”

But if Iran is the Soviet Union, I’m Shaquille O’Neal. There is nothing reckless in soberly distinguishing large threats from small ones, and there is something foolhardy in grossly exaggerating the strength of your enemies.

As military powers go, Iran is a pipsqueak. It has no nuclear weapons. It has a pitiful air force. Its navy is really just a coast guard. It spends less on defense than Singapore or Sweden. Our military budget is 145 times bigger than Iran’s.

By contrast, the Soviets had far more nuclear weapons than we did, a blue-water navy, formidable air power and ground forces that dwarfed ours. In a conventional war, it was anything but certain that we could prevail, and in a nuclear exchange, it was clear they could destroy us.

Iran is a very modest adversary. Of course, even a Chihuahua can bite. The U.S. government claims Iran has provided arms and training to Iraqi insurgents—never mind that it is allied with the government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

But it’s worthwhile to remember that even bad regimes sometimes have understandable motivations. The United States helped overthrow a democratically elected Iranian government in 1953 and provided aid to Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s. If Iran sees an interest in bleeding the U.S. military, that is likely a defensive response to the presence of an avowed enemy on its border rather than a sign of aggressive intent.,0,6323972.column

2 Responses to “The non-existence of Iranian weapons caches and the vastly exaggerated threat of Iran”

  1. 1 Hans May 23, 2008 at 7:06 am

    Kieth Olbermann had a short snippet about the first article in his “Bushed” segment last week. This is very important information to get out, especially with the fear the Idiot in Chief pulls a October Surprise via Iran.
    I write about Iranian-US Relations here as well, as this information needs to get out so we don’t get blindsided into yet another war.

  2. 2 theradicalmormon May 23, 2008 at 6:42 pm

    I agree. As much as the Whitehouse is saying we don’t have plans to attack, there is a good possibility that this administration will attack Iran. Keep up the good work in getting the word out.

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