"What nuclear weapons have been found in Iran? "
Just how do you do that?
My understanding is that Israel does have nuclear weapons and Iran does not as yet. That is my [i]understanding[/], and it is not something I would care to have to [i]prove[/] in either direction. I believe that both statements have a high likelihood, but would be willing to see good evidence to the contrary in either direction. My understanding is that Iran wishes contradictory impressions about their national posture on this. One impression I believe they wish to generate is that Iranians are peace-loving religious folk who are trying to bring their country into a reasonable posture to deal with the fact that oil won't last forever and that nobody will take them seriously as a national power unless they are able to support a nuclear industry and have at least the potential for being a nuclear Military power.
The other is that they wish to use the possibility of nuclear weapons to shore up their governmental legitimacy and to support at least pretensions toward being a regional military power that can be a balance to Israel. In doing this, they run the risk of starting a regional nuclear exchange and possibly a global nuclear exchange as well.
As I said, these are conflicting aims.
As I also said, these are my own readings of the situation, and I think that many more patriotic Iranians are quite capable of seeing them as "bold initiatives." This is the language that patriotism will often use, somewhat one sided and myopic and without a realistic estimation of consequences. Iranian patriotism in this way is probably not much different in its fashion that Argentinian patriotism or the Patriotism of the Finns or the French or the Israelis or the Canadians.
It's like having a teeter-totter with the fulcrum moved way over from one side or the other in making certain kinds of judgements.
As for the question of finding out the truth of the situation, I'll try to take the opportunity to beat one of my favorite dead horses again.
You do research to find out what the actual facts may be, and then you base your actions on what the facts are.
This is one of the reasons that good journalism is so important. Good journalism tries to find out what the actual facts really are. It checks its sources and gets confirmations and it led to its conclusions by the facts it collects.
What it does NOT do is cherry pick facts to fit preconceived fixed ideas and positions and edit the facts in such a way as to exclude facts that are inconvenient.
There is a close connection between journalism and espionage, since both professions are in the business of gathering facts. Frequently journalists have been arrested as spies and are expelled from countries for gathering information because it is difficult to know in advance which information a given country will regard as a state secret. The story is that in the Soviet Union during the cold war, the phone book was classified. Imagine the sort of trouble being a visitor in that country a6t that time could get you into if you tried to give somebody you found interesting a call.
Much of the espionage information done on the United States has been done simply by having people read and classify information they've found in the newspapers here. You cab find out where many public facilities are, generating plants, reservoirs, manufacturing plants, offices — you name it.
Much information about soviet affairs might be gleaned from copies of soviet war college publications we might acquire. And so on.
And then there are actual covert operations, such as running companies that specialize in information that other countries might find of interest, such as information about nuclear power and the oil industry. This is of course why the cover of Ms Plame was so vital to our middle east intel gathering capabilities, and why when her cover was blown by Vice President Cheney and the wrecking crew in the White House at that time, access to a lot of the potential information about exactly the sort of data John is asking about dried up. The companies with which she was involved had their covers blown. Agents in place that might have been valuable resources for this sort of information were blown as well.
I would be very interested indeed to see a full evaluation of the amount of damage done to the national security by that set of politically motivated disclosures, and I'd be even more interested in know what damage continues to unfold from that. I am already heartsick about it.
That would be one of the decent ways to gather information about that sort of data though, to clarify what I just said: To run a successful covert operation to get it and hope that treason doesn't blow the operation or get anybody killed or both.
"Are they worse than those that may be found in Israel and other countries?"
To take your question seriously, I don't know. I would imagine that would depend on what your evaluation criteria were, and the nature of the damage that was designed into the weapons themselves. Some bombs are designed to be primarily anti-personnel weapons, right? Many of these kill with a blast of high intensity radiation but are less intense on blast-wave and heat damage, so that the real estate is less affected and the territory can be occupied. I believe. Other weapons are very dirty and will deny real estate as well as providing significant environmental degradation and massive casualties as well. If you did research, you could probably come up with other options even more distasteful than the ones I'm offering.
I don't know which options which countries have on offer or have in development at this point.
The Pakistani Nuclear Bomb specialist who sold the North Koreans their technology a while back is supposed to have had several packages available, though my understanding is that the ones that most countries of budget means really seem to feel their needs don't require the more specialized, higher tech and cleaner bombs: It's not like they're giving high-end presents several scattered groupings of their 500,000 dearest friends.
Should you feel motivated to do research on your own, I'd really be thrilled to hear the results.
So it would be ok for Iran like North Korea
to have them? I thought Hitch was pretty
clear on the concern.
I don't know if Hitchens was a Republican, though.
I guess it's fine to be all for that second amendment stuff as long as it's people you approve of buying the weapons to overthrow the governments that you don't like. When it's people you don't like buying weapons that might be used against you, you start talking about what a terrible thing it is to have such whacked out drooling fools able to put their fingers on triggers might fast, and making plans to blow them away before they get any funny ideas.
Doesn't sound so cute when Iran or Korea starts talking about Second Amendment solutions that seem just fine when we're the ones doing the talking, does it?
Little more talking, a little less threatening and shooting and spheroid-slinging seems a great idea from where I sit. I still think Hitchens made a lot of sense here, though I'm not so sure about everything he's written, being a bit more open to the spiritual world of experience than he seems to have been, and being a great fan of Bob Dylan as a song-writer but thinking he was really not a poet. Which doesn't keep me from enjoying most of his songs, by the way.