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tv   [untitled]  CSPAN  June 30, 2009 10:00am-10:30am EDT

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finish up on time. nd maybe one more. one of the things one learns at the pentagon is meetings are supposed to start and stop on time. >> i hope this question does not disappoint you. we traditionally think of warm places when we think of your aior. you outline the beginning of your strategy. as you are looking up 20 years, to the north of your aor, the bering strait, bering sea, and thinking presence and not talking submarines. >> as you look out 20 years and the prospect at defending u.s. endeavors off the coastline and you provide forces to the u.s. arctic coastline, how much did the arctic feature in your thinking in your formulation of strategy? >> yeah, guy, it's a terrific
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question. the shortest answer is the arctic didn't figure much, but we didn't ignore it. there are interesting, all manner of interesting aspects to the global warming, if that's what's really happening -- oh, man. as there is unmistakeable evidence of increased access to the northwest passage and the north passage. so if you come up here, you know, what military command is responsible? is it northern command? i could have made a pretty compelling case two-and-a-half, three years ago. is it pacific command? you bet. is it european command? or is it -- and what about canada? is that really, is it their water? how do we work through the policy challenges attendant to military operations up here as is certain will be more than less involved in the out years in operations or at least
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guaranteeing freedom of access in the maritime domain? so it is an issue that we are studying more closely. you know, the classic staff response, well, we'll take that for action. well, we have it for action. we're working on it with northern command, with european command. it's complicated, it's challenging, it's important. we talked about the trade, $1 trillion of trade that our countries do with the united states. the decrease in transit time is startling between the far eastern countries and u.k. and our nato allies in europe. well, everybody can cut four or five steaming days off in the northwest passage is open. so an issue of significant strategic importance, we're would working it in concert with northern command, european command, our friends and allies and the department of state. >> and on that note,
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complicated, challenging, and important, it is 1830. you're dismissed. thank you, sir. thanks, walt. it's great to see you again. [applause] >> we're going to take you live, now, to a discussion just getting underway on the potential threat posed by a nuclear iran. speakers discuss the current political situation in iran and will make recommendations on how to stop iran's nuclear weapons program. live coverage now from the heritage foundation in washington, d.c.. >> nobody exactly guessed when the soviets tested, the americans were off by several years, so it immediately happens in the wake of this surprise whether it's the april surprise or the october surprise, whatever, is countries immediately scurry to figure out how are we going to deal with this even though they knew inside that someday this was coming. what happens if we all just wake up one morning on cnn, and they
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announce that they believe iran has tested a nuclear device whether for peaceful purposes or not? and so the question is immediately people ask themselves, what should we do next? so that's the question that we put to our research team is what do we do the day after? and so to discuss that we have three panel cysts, and first -- panelists, and first will be ken katzman. he's a senior analyst for the research service, and he's not speaking for crs or any member or committee of commerce. he joined crs in 1991 in the aftermath of the liberation of kuwait, and he has twice been detailed to the house foreign affairs committee, and he's responsible for iraq, iran, and afghanistan policy. following ken will be ilan berman, vice president for policy of the american foreign policy council and an expert on
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regional security in the middle east, central asia and the russian federation. he is consulted with both the cia and the department of defense and provided assistance on foreign policy and national security matters to a range of governmental agencies and congressional offices. he is an adjunct professor, he's a member of the committee on the present danger and the editor of the journal for international security affairs. he is the author of articles, books, and most recently edited the book, taking on tehran: strategies for confronting the islamic republic, and finally speaking will be jim phillips who is our senior research fellow here at heritage in the douglas and sarah allison center. he's written extensively on security issues and international terrorism. he was a research fellow at the congressional research service, and he is a member of the committee of the present danger as well. and also on the board of editors of middle east quarterly.
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and so i'll then turn it over to ken. >> thank you, james. thank you for inviting me, it's good to be back at heritage. as was noted, i'm speaking in a personal capacity, i'm not reflecting any committee or member of congress. my brief remarks today, i wish to offer condolences to the family of michael jackson. first, let me say that i want to, i'm going to talk a little about the current unrest in iran to set the stage for the discussion of the nuclear issue and the report which i was generously heritage asked me to comment on although not as a formal member of the working group. what has struck me, though, in a lot of the press reporting of the recent events in iran particularly in tehran is the idea that major rifts in the regime are new. having studied iran since a few
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years after the islamic revolution when the u.s. government did a lot of hiring of people who knew something about islam and islamic fundamentalism in the transition from sort of the u.s. government focus on the cold war to, you know, islamic fundamentalism, we often forget that serious rifts have occurred throughout the history of the islamic republic of iran. we had nearly the entire senior level of the regime was almost decapitated by a series of bombings in june 1981. the leading figure was killed, the president mohamed was killed, the prime minister in these bombings. we forget that ayatollah khomeini dismissed a president, dismissed and ousted in 1980. we had in 1986 the famous merckty affair which was involving the u.s. overture to
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iran in the context of the iran-contra affair. in which there were many arrests of people close to centers of power. we had the removal of ayatollah month certificate ri as khomeini's designated success accesser in 1989. that seriously shook the regime. we had a serious rift over whether or not to end the iran/iraq war in 1987-'88 when iran was losing, and there were many senior figures that said, no, iran should continue. that was a major rift. in 1999 we had major student riots, several killed. just in 2000 we had -- 2004 we had the council of guardians which vets the candidates, basically disqualified almost all of the major reformist candidates for the parliament, and there were sit-ins and various protests right from within the regime, so the idea of a rift in the regime is new i
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think is not correct. ayatollah rafsanjani was actually a key figure in many of these rifts. he is a very, very clever back-room operator. he tends to lose elections. he did win for president in '89 and then again in '93, but that was after khomeini died and, you know, the people were looking to regime stalwarts for continuity. he did win as president but after he left office as president in '97, he's consistently lost. and, of course, he lost to ahmadinejad in 2005, so he is not popular. he is a back-room operator almost pleadly. completely. all of these senior figures in the regime the reason why i think they're going to contain these rifts and heal these rifts is because they fear that if it
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completely gets out of control and complete chaos reigns, some outside group will emerge and take power. could be reformists from, you know, out of the turmoil, could be somebody in the rev guard, could be somebody from outside. conceivably an opening -- i don't think so -- but potentially an opening for, you know, the young shah who's here in great falls and tends to appear on television when there's turmoil, and when there's not turmoil you sort of never see him. but there is tremendous fear that if they don't heal this rift, some outside group may emerge, and they would all lose. some other things i've heard that i strongly disagree with, i've seen some reporting in the last few days that there are rifts within the revolutionary guard and the baa siege that's put down the unrest, you know, i wrote a book on the revolutionary guard from 1993. i do not see that happening.
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i do not see major rifts in the security forces, i do not see factions emerging there. that said, i think there is potential. i would not rule out that that could happen. had the protests really mushroomed and posed a very, very serious challenge to the regime i do think you would have seen what you saw during the, when the shah fell which is the security forces refusing to fire on the population and fracturing and splintering. i do think you would have seen that. you did not see that, however, because i believe the protest movement that emerged after this election did not, contrary to what i've read in the papers, it did not really attract a broad following. it attracted the reformists, the urban, educated, generally young intellectuals in tehran, but it did not spread wildly to the
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other cities. there were some protests in the other cities, but not major. i did not see new segments of the population joining these protests, i did not see the bazaars shut down, i did not see major strike action, i did not see a call for a general strike, i did not see people coming in from the villages to join these protests, i did not see the urban poor from tehran even joining these protests, so i don't think that these protests were actually that serious a challenge, and i was one who during these days was saying that this will subside if they do not attract these new segments of the population, and they did not. why did this, why did the protests not grow? why didn't they attract new entrants? because i think there was some doubt as to whether the degree of fraud. i mean, basically, one is asking someone in iran to imagine that
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there is an 11 million vote fraud committed. you know, could happen, but that's an awful lot of fraud. what i'm looking for is to see if anyone in the election system in the interior ministry from the election commission comes out and describes, you know, the fraud. if we don't see that and we've not seen it yet, then i would have to say maybe, you know, that there was some, that the election was not as errant as maybe the protesters thought. i'm not saying it was, you know, i make no judgments on the election. i'm just saying 11 million votes is an awful lot of fraud, a lot of people would have had to have been in on it, and eventually if it was completely fraudulent, i think we will know it. somehow. just briefly to finish up, you know, obviously, i work for the congress. i'm not commenting on anyone in congress, but the congress, you know, obviously in the last
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congress there was several initiatives to increase sanctions on iran, and my colleagues will get into this more on the nuclear issue, but the protests have given some new impetus to some of these ideas that have been in congress for a few years such as sanctioning companies that sell gasoline to iran. this is an idea that's been around for a few years, and now it has passed in a form, in a version of a fiscal year '10 appropriations bill that's been incorporated. there's a major sanctions bill introduced by mr. berman. he has said he's still holding to the position that he's not going to push it right now because president obama's policy is to reach out to iran and still seems to be the policy. but that bill is out there and may attract new support. there are other ideas e emerging such as sanctioning, trying to get other companies to stop selling telecommunications jamming and internet monitoring
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gear to iran. these are some new ideas that arose out of what we've seen. some other ideas, some members are interested in looking at, you know, iran's connections with china, latin america, russia, some of the other countries that have been somewhat skeptical about sanctioning iran or ian entering -- even entering alliances with iran, so some in congress are interested in looking more closely at those countries, so the unrest has manifested in congress not necessarily directly on the unrest itself although some resolutions have passed, but rather on going back and maybe advancing some of the sanctions ideas that have been around anyway and, perhaps, pushing those over the goal line. think i'll stop there. >> thank you. ilan. >> thank you very much. it's a pleasure to be back at heritage. it's been a couple months, so i feel like a refresher's needed. as someone who was part of sort of the formal set of experts
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that looked at this problem set, i thought it would be useful to sort of contextualize how we thought about the iranian nuclear problem, and i think it's useful to think about the fact that, you know, iran, the eye iranian strategic challenge, the challenge iran poses to the united states and countries in europe and countries in asia is not just about the nuclear program although that's sort of the long pole in the tent as it were. on the nuclear program, the assumptions are, the ground assumption that we started from was that iran is fairly well along on the process of creating an offensive capability if it wanted to, and obviously that's an important caveat. but iran is clearly laying the architecture for doing so. you know, in february of this
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year the international atomic energy agency issued its board of directers report, and it said that at that time iran had amazed what it estimated was -- amassed what it estimated was a metric ton of uranium who could then be weapons use bl. so when you hear officials whether in europe or in the united states talk about iran crossing a threshold, this is what they're talking about, the raw material that's eventually necessary to weaponnize. that's why organizations like the institute for science and international security which is sort of politically certainly not a fan of very robust sanctions, not a fan of military action against iran certainly talk about the fact the way they're looking at this modeling exercise iran will attain at least a latent nuclear capability. not nuclear weapons capability, but nuclear capability in 2009, quote, under a wide variety of
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scenarios. so the lesson to draw home here is iran is working very diligently, and you have all sorts of other telltale signs. iran is now spending what's estimated to be over 6,000 centrifuges, and by 2014 they plan to have 50,000 centrifuges, so this is sort of an acquisition program, it's a program that's moving quickly, and the expectation is that over the next year, maybe less than a year, certainly a year, two, three years we're going to see a very, very mature nuclear capability which could be weaponnized if they made the decision to do so. the other things we were thinking about in framing this discussion was the fact that there are programs that are running parallel to this that have a lot of implications for the idea of iran acquiring a nuclear capability. one is, for example, the ballistic missile program. iran, the mainstay of iran's ballistic missile arsenal is the
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shihab3. they'd had that for a long time. over the last several years they've increased both the cat and the trajectory of the missile, expanded the range, and they began transitioning from liquid fuel to solid fuel missiles which are more mobile. so last month they tested a missile called 2, and that was deemed successful, and the reason it's significant is because it is a extended-range, nuclear-capable solid fuel missile. so, you know, they're at least creating the potential in their strategic arsenal that will be able to mount those warheads on missiles and deliver them. and the third is sort of where these two programs are heading and where they may intersect. and that's the space program. iran is a couple -- well, three or four years now ago became the
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world's first muslim space-faring nation. and iran has tested very regularly, had commercial tests of satellites since. the problem with that from a sort of policy analyst perspective is that even though that's benign in and of itself, the technology that you need to boost a payload into space is almost identical to the technology that you need to add a third stage to a medium-range missile to make it an intercontinental ballistic missile. so what you're seeing is this sort of triangulation of a series of programs that may be isolated in and of itself, but they could have a synergistic effect. so that's what we were thinking about when we looked at this idea of what the nuclear program looks like and what the strategic threat is. the takeaway is that the programs are mature, and they're proceeding very quickly. but that doesn't mean -- and i think and jim knows this because i sort of mentioned it to him, i'm not sure that the title of
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the report is exactly accurate because there is not necessarily a day after meaning there's not necessarily a point at which they test, and we know for a fact that they're nuclear. and there may be sort of this slow process, right? there are several scenarios, you could have a nuclear breakout like you had in 2002 where the north koreans essentially came clean and said, oh, guess what? yes, we did sign the agreed framework eight years ago, but we have a nuclear program, and here you go. that's certainly one scenario, and it's plausible, but there's also what you're beginning to see in the region which is essentially assume nuclearization which is that iran is moving so quickly and robustly along these programmatic tracks that at some point there's going to be an assumption that iran is nuclear even if it doesn't do anything overt to demonstrate it. and so the trends that you're beginning to see from this, i
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think, is sort of what framed the discussion for, you know, what we should do about it. and we're essentially looking at four macro trends. i may be leaving some out, but when i think about it, i think about four. the first is, you know, what you're seeing is a pretty substantial shift in the balance of power regionally as iran rises, as the united states is at least perceived to be receding in terms of strategic influence, withdrawal from iraq, preoccupation with afghanistan and pakistan, there is a sense that there is a shift, and it may not be tectonic, but it's certainly present and felt robustly in the region that iran is on the rise and america's on the decline. and so when we think about, you know, what needs to happen, one of our policy recommendations, and jim will talk about this is sort of, you know, what do we think about, what should we be doing to the region to signal the permanence of our presence so iran doesn't think there is a
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day after, not in the nuclear context, but a day after america in the sense where it's unfettered in the region? the second, i think, macro trend that we're all concerned about was this idea that the fact that iran's nuclearization is not going to happen in isolation. you're essentially looking at not one nuclear iran, but potentially many. in terms of historical context, in the fall of 2002 in the run-up to operation iraqi freedom, there was one nuclear aspirant in the persian gulf, and that was iran which had just been disclosed as having a clan clandestine nuclear program. today there's 14. tunisia, morocco, yemen, and the list goes on. jordan, turkey, the list goes on. and some of them undoubtedly are seeking this capability because they have legitimate energy needs. turkey, for example, has a really severe energy deficit, and they're looking for a
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nuclear program as a corrective for that. but i would venture to guess that a lot of them including many of the countries of the gcc, including yemen which doesn't have much by way of running water so it's not so in dire need of additional sources of energy are doing this from a strategic perspective. they're essentially looking for a counterweight to to the emerg, what they see as an emerging iranian bomb. so this has a great deal to do with, obviously, the balance of power in the region, but it has to do with the fact that our strategy when it comes to the iranian nuclear program has to be robust enough not only to deter and contain iran, but the other countries that are lining up behind iran. the outcome's going to be the same. we are on the cusp of a very serious proliferation cascade in the region, so our strategy has to be serious enough to deal with the latent as rations --
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aspirations of these other countries as well. the third sort of macro trend i think we were looking at was the impact that this program will have on the pace of freedom within iran itself because i think -- and no one's ever done this, so i posit this to jim. this may be a good study to do. but if you rhine up the caron -- line up the chronology of the timeline of what's happened to individual free speech and personal freedoms and representation within iran, they line up fairly closely, and i think the lesson here is as iran gets closer to nuclear capability, it feels freer to deal as it will with its internal population. you see this in the accelerating pace of closures of religious newspapers, in persecution, just in the tone of the public statements you have. so i think in a very real sense the pace of the iranian nuclear program and the pace of the freedom of iran lead in opposite
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directions. the harder it's going to be for protests like you see on the streets now of having any sort of chance of not only succeeding because as ken illustrated it's a complicated process, but as having any hope of attracting international attention because the lesson of tiananmen, for example, in '89 is the fact that the international community doesn't meddle in the affairs of nuclear powers, so i think this is an important idea the regime is playing with as it attempts to secure long-term viability. and the fourth thing we were all concerned about is this idea that the iranians may come to the conclusion based on current u.s. politics and current international politics and, frankly, recent press debit is -- precedent is that it's possible to essentially create a situation where they appear to be so marching towards the bomb that we just start to assume
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that iran's a nuclear power, and there's noog we can do about it. there's obviously a healthy school of argument that says that is, in fact, the case, this is a program that's gone on for a large number of years, and it's impossible to roll it back completely, but it doesn't mean we shouldn't try. the current negotiations with north korea are an example of this. on again, off again, i understand, but when north korea declared its nuclear breakout in 2002, that was not the end of the story. that was the start of a fairly ro must diplomatic process to try to convince them to give up the program. it's had more failures than success, but the takeaway is that the international community did not assume this was an irreversible step and started working fairly robustly on things that you can do to try to convince the north koreans that the pressures of continued nuclearization far outweigh the
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benefits they could have. i'm not sure we're quite there yet, but it's a useful model for how we approach iran. >> thank you. jim? >> i'd like to give you a thumbnail sketch of a recent study we've done which is the original reason for this panel, iran's nuclear threat, the day after, and i should stress that this was written before the elections although we concluded that it really regarding the nuke around question it didn't matter really whether president ahmadinejad was reelected or not because there wasn't that much difference on a nuclear issue with the former prime minister. in fact, mousse i have report edly was present at the creation of the iranian nuclear program in the mid 198 os, and according to documents he personally approved the iranian outreach to the pakistani
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nuclear profiteer a.q. khan. so we don't see it would have made a big difference in substance on the nuclear in question. it would have made a difference in terms of tone and atmosphere, but ultimately the only vote that counts in iran is that of the supreme leader, and he hasn't changed, and that policy hasn't changed. the obama administration remains committed to its engagement policy. president obama has said that this will involve bigger carrots and bigger sticks, and he famously mentioned in his inaugural address that we will extend a hand if you unclench your fist which was an offer made generally to the world, but specifically to iran. and, unfortunately, as we've seen in recent events the iranian regime continues to have its fists clenched tightly on the throat of the eye rain kwan kwan -- iranian people, and the


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