Iran: The Threat We Cannot Neglect
Kenneth R. Timmerman, FrontPageMagazine.com:
[The following is a transcript of Ken Timmerman's speech at the Wednesday Morning Club on July 13, 2005. You may purchase his new book Countdown to Crisis in the FPM Bookstore for $25.95.] READ MOREKen's talk is an excellent summary of the kind of compelling content in his book. It is a must read,
Janet Levy: C-SPAN is with us today. So if you have questions, please step up to the microphone to ask them.
All right, here are some startling revelations uncovered by Ken Timmerman in his new book, “Countdown to Crisis.” First, Iran may be in possession of the nuclear material for 20 to 25 bombs, and our government has known that this has been in the planning stages for the last 20 years.
Second, there is a connection between Iran and al-Qaida, also known by our government. Iran has been providing training, weapons, financial assistance and protection for al-Qaida.
Thirdly, the Iranian government was involved in 9/11 and other recent terrorists attacks, and in fact is suspected in being involved in the last week’s attacks in London. And Iran negotiated with Kim Jong Il for nuclear weapons assistance and received help from Germany, Switzerland, China and Russia.
We are facing a nuclear armed Iran that is working with al-Qaida to destroy us. Let that sink in. Also shocking is what Ken reveals about U.S. intelligence and how it ignored warnings about Iran’s secret nuclear program, including actual documents presented to the CIA and warnings from an Iranian defector who came forward two months prior to 9/11.
If you haven’t read any of Ken’s books, I want to tell you, they are page-turners. They’re very fast, exciting reads. It’s hard to believe they’re non-fiction actually.
A couple of things that are unique about Ken, he’s not afraid to advance theories that aren’t politically correct and he goes on the ground and talks to primary sources in exotic and very dangerous places. The other thing you should know about him, he’s often confused for being Jewish and he’s not, although we still love and admire him anyway.
Had to throw that in, Ken.
For “Countdown,” Ken conducted face-to-face interviews with high-level defectors from Iranian intelligence organizations and family members of regime leaders. Ken is not new to this, he’s been tracking terrorists for over 20 years. In fact, in 1982 he was taken hostage by Arafat’s fata [ph] in Lebanon and spent a month in an underground cell, and he’s still doing this.
He tracked Usama Bin Laden and his international terrorist network in the late ‘90s for “Reader’s Digest” and was the first U.S. correspondent on the scene following the bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Lebanon.
Ken is the author of several books including “The Death Lobby: “How the West Armed Iraq,” “Preachers of Hate: Islam and the War on America” and “The French Betrayal of America.” He has written for Newsweek, Time, The Wall Street Journal, The National Review and many other publications, and he’s helping victims of 9/11 prepare a class action suit against the Iranian government for their involvement in the World Trade Center attacks.
Please join me in welcoming Ken Timmerman to the Wednesday Morning Club.
MR. TIMMERMAN: Well, good morning. It’s a pleasure to be here. And, Janet, thank you very much for that wonderful introduction. I hope I’m going to be able to live up to all of those factual points that Janet raised and explain some of them to you.
What I’m going to try to do is to speak for around 20 minutes. I don’t want to take too much in actually prepared remarks, and then kind of open up the floor to questions. So if there are areas in the book that I don’t go into in the detail that you’re interested in, please don’t hesitate to ask questions, use the microphone, and we’ll go into that later on.
It’s a good thing that I’m speaking to you after lunch because if I talked to you about what I’m going to speak about now before lunch, you might have gone hungry. It’s a very distressing and difficult subject.
I’ve been working on Iran for well over 20 years, but it’s only in the past two years that Iran, the Islamic Republic of Iran has become a clear and present danger to the United States. In the past, certainly the Islamic Regime has been our enemy. They declared war on us in 1979 at the very beginning when they took the U.S. Embassy hostage, our diplomats hostage, and occupied the Embassy for 444 days.
Many people think that Iranian terrorism ended when they gave back our hostages in 1981, the day that Ronald Reagan, the minute that Ronald Reagan took office in 1981. In fact, what they did was to go underground to become more covert, to become more clever, and to continue killing Americans.
I believe that we can no longer afford today to neglect the threat from Iran. This is a country with clear intentions to murder Americans, and now they have new capabilities, they have new nuclear capabilities. The reason I wrote this book is to explain to Americans who might not have the background and might not get the information from the newspapers and from the formerly mainstream media to know what is going on in Iran. I wanted to lay out the facts that “Countdown to Crisis” is not a polemic, it is not a policy book. It’s a book of facts, of news, it gives you background on the nuclear weapons program in Iran, but it also gives you the inside story.
I want to tell you a little bit about the types of sources that I used in preparing this book because it’s very important to evaluate the information. First of all, I tried to name my sources wherever possible. So you’re going to see many Iranian names in this book of former intelligence officers, defectors who I’ve been talking to in great detail. Some of these defectors I have been debriefing for two years and going repeatedly to Europe and to places in the Middle East to sit down with them face to face to get their information and I brought this information back to the United States and to various European countries to test it, to try to corroborate it. So what you actually see in the book is the information that I have been able to verify from these defectors and other sources.
You’ll also see that there’s information in “Countdown to Crisis” that was not included in the 9/11 Commission Report, very important information that our intelligence community had gathered but did not provide to the 9/11 commissioners until the very last minute when it was discovered by alert staffers by accident, and I will get into that story as we go along.
Other sources that I used in preparing this book to help me get the inside story of Iran’s nuclear missile programs and support of terrorism included family members of top regime officials, people who have come out from Iran and are now living in the West, in the United States, in France and Germany and other places. Some of these individuals I’ve interviewed over a hundred times for the book to get their stories.
And finally, one other kind of category of sources mentioned here, and this is without going into the U.S. sources that I used in the book, were intermediaries used in particular by the Clinton Administration when Bill Clinton had several attempts to establish a back-channel dialogue with the Islamic Republic of Iran in view of renewing trade and lifting U.S. sanctions, and this is a story that nobody has written about in the United States. Nobody knows about it. I actually found the intermediary that Clinton sent to Teheran on several occasions and got his story. Again, I sat down with this person many, many, many times over a period of 10 years, so I’ve distilled all that into this book.
I want to give you an idea of the two countdown clocks that I’m using in “Countdown to Crisis.” The first is of Iran’s nuclear weapons program. And Janet alluded to that, and I appreciate that, in her opening remarks. The current regime in Iran relaunched their nuclear weapons program in 1985, and, in fact, the person who was behind that is a pretty familiar name to many of you in this room and many of our viewers, Aliakwar Hashemi Rafsanjani, the smiling turban that the formerly mainstream media said was going to be the next president of Iran, the moderate, the reformer.
Well, you’ll find in the book that I profile Mr. Rafsanjani and describe many of the meetings that he had with nuclear scientists, with other members of the regime, and you’ll find that the man is, first of all, committed to Iran developing nuclear weapons. He relaunched that program in 1985, 1986. Rafsanjani was the one who invited Abdul Qadeer Kahn, the Pakistani nuclear scientist, the inimitable Dr. Kahn, A. Q. Kahn, to come to Iran to help them to master the nuclear fuel cycle and also to master the black market. Dr. Kahn gave his entire Rolodex, if you wish, to the Iranians and helped them to procure technologies, production technologies and other enabling technologies on the black market in Europe and the Far East and elsewhere.
Rafsanjani also, you’ll find out, is a terrorist. He was implicated directly in the murder in 1992 of Iranian Kurdish dissidents in Berlin, Germany known as the Micconose [ph] case. The German Court found in 1996 in their ultimate conclusions of this case that Rafsanjani bore personal responsibility and was part of a committee of five individuals who gave the orders for the assassination. In fact, when Rafsanjani was president from 1989 to 1997, Iranian hit teams murdered 200 dissidents overseas. It’s not exactly what I would call a moderate politician. Or I suppose David Horowitz would say that’s what some of the people on the left would like to do, too, is to murder their opponents. In this country they do it with words, in Iran they do it with bullets and knives, including overseas.
Our intelligence community missed a lot of Iran’s nuclear weapons program. If you look at the equipment that they imported through the Kahn network, the A. Q. Kahn network, and if they had used that equipment to enrich uranium, Iran today could have enough weapons-grade material for 20 to 25 bombs. Now, the regime tells the International Atomic Energy Agency they’re not doing that. They spent a billion dollars, went to all this trouble to go to the black market to keep that equipment in boxes in a warehouse someplace. Never used it, never enriched uranium, never did it, no way. Well, I find that a little bit hard to believe and so do most nuclear analysts, including some of the people who work at the IAEA and have been going to Iranian nuclear weapons plants which have now been exposed and are subject to IAEA investigations. So you have on the one hand this nuclear clock, and the nuclear clock is very close to midnight, if it’s not already there.
The second clock, countdown clock that I’ve been following is U.S. efforts to counter Iran’s activities. At virtually the same time that Rafsanjani reinvigorated the nuclear weapons program in 1985, the CIA got involved with efforts to aid the opposition in exile to promote a democratic alternative to the regime. A lot of these are spy stores and I’m not going to read you from the book, but you’ll see the meetings between Iranian exiles and people from the CIA about black operations and disinformation and clandestine radios and things like this. And at times it got quite heady.
There’s an incident that I recount from 1987 when former President Nixon got involved with the entourage of Reza Pahlavi, the son of the former shah. One of Reza’s advisors came to him with John Connelly, the former treasury secretary and said, “Look, we’ve got to do something here. We’ve got an opportunity, it’s the middle of the Iran/Iraq war, the U.S. fleet is in the Persian Gulf. Can’t we take advantage of that?”
And they go to President Nixon with this idea of landing Reza Pahlavi and his entourage on an island in the Persian Gulf to announce a provisional free government of Iran. And Nixon looks at this and he says, “Oh, yes, this is doable. I think we can do this.” And he makes a bunch of calls and he calls some people in the joint chiefs and retired admirals and active duty service people, and they put together this whole logistical plan with maps and charts and deployments and aircraft and ships. They’re going to protect Kish Island and this free Iranian government.
One of Reza’s aids then is charged with taking this up to him in Connecticut. And he’s very excited as he’s given this briefing of how he’s now finally going to be king. And he gets to the end of it, as his spirits fall, his heart’s pounding and he said to the aid, “How do I get out of here if it all goes wrong?” And that’s a little bit the problem that the CIA and the U.S. had in trying to promote a democratic alternative to Iran, is that the leadership in exile did not have the courage, did not have the guts to do what had to be done when we had the opportunity to do something.
Now, over the years, as you can imagine, the support for the exiles waned until finally you got to the administrations of George Herbert Walker Bush and Bill Clinton, both of which sought to cut deals with the Mullahs in Teheran. And starting in the late 1980s and all through the 1990s, we had a long period of feckless policy, missed opportunities and intelligence failures, which I detail in “Countdown to Crisis,” one failure after another. And in my opinion, those failures and that feckless policy, those missed opportunities brought us directly to where we are today with a new threat of a nuclear Armageddon from Iran.
One of the intelligence failures that was most prominent was Iran’s relationship with al-Qaida. As I detail in the book, this actually began in 1993, 1993. The Iranians send one of their top terrorists, a man named Imad Muknua [ph] to the Sudan to meet with Usama Bin Laden personally and to work out details of how they’re going to cooperate in the future.
Now, this is something that was not supposed to happen. U.S. intelligence analysts were telling their bosses the Iranians are Shea Muslims, Bin Laden is a Suni Muslim, worst he’s a Wahabe [ph] Suni Fundamentalist, and they can’t talk to each other. They can’t cooperate together, they can’t possibly work together. It’s not happened.
Well, we know that it happened and we know that it happened because the bodyguard who handled security for that particular meeting between Muknua and Bin Laden in 1993 was finally arrested by the United States, was put on trial for is involvement in the double Africa embassy bombings in 1998, cut a plea bargain in 2000. His plea bargain was for life in prison, okay? That was the bargain, that was the deal. And in his statement during that plea bargain he described this meeting where Muknua comes to the Sudan and meets with Bin Laden. We know it also because Bin Laden’s top financial -- the man in charge of his financial networks, Jamal L. Foddel [ph], defected to the United States in 1996.
One of the U.S. prosecutors dealing with this guy said, “He provided us with the Rosetta [ph] stone to understand what Bin Laden was doing, and yet we didn’t understand and we didn’t listen. He gave us all the financial networks for Bin Laden’s fundraising mechanism, the charities that he was using, the organizations here in the United States, the organizations in Saudi Arabia and elsewhere and we didn’t crack down, we did nothing. This was in 1996 that the guy defected.
One of the intelligence analysts I talked to on the 9/11 Commission said if we had listened to Jamal L. Foddel, we never should have allowed these embassy bombings to take place in 1998, let alone 9/11. We could have put an end to al-Qaida right then and there in 1996 and we didn’t. A very major missed opportunity.
A lot of this information came out quite dramatically in the closed-door hearings of the 9/11 Commission. The story that I tell in Chapter 24 of the book has never been told before. I think it’s extremely important. One week before the 9/11 Commission was supposed to hand in its final report, this is July of last year, their staff is in this secure room in an undisclosed location in Washington, D.C. where they have all of the highly classified documents that they had gotten from various U.S. intelligence organizations. And they’re going through the last box in the last stack, and the last document in the last box just to make sure that they haven’t missed anything, and they say, “Oops.” And that last document was a smoking gun of Iran’s involvement with al-Qaida, something they had seen nothing about until then.
Now, the 9/11 Commission had a mandate to get everything of relevance to the 9/11 attacks from the intelligence community, and the intelligence community never turned over these documents. This summary document which they discovered that last week referenced 75 highly classified intelligence reports detailing, detailing the material assistance that the Islamic Republic of Iran provided to eight to ten of the highjackers on 9/11. It detailed how Imad Muknua, Iran’s star terrorist, personally escorted these people from Saudi Arabia to Beirut, from Beirut to Iran so they would avoid U.S. surveillance in Pakistan. They didn’t have a way of getting into Afghanistan securely, so they were going through Iran.
And I can guarantee you this, they weren’t going through Iran on a tourist bus. They were going to Iran where they were being managed by the Red [sp] guards, the revolutionary guards, intelligence services. And it was the revolutionary guards intelligence services that were controlling the borders into Afghanistan.
Now, when they discovered, the 9/11 Commission discovered this, they were very disturbed. The staff director of the Commission called up the director of the intelligence agency, which I’ve agreed not to disclose, and said, “We need to see all of these 75 documents.” They went over with a group of analysts on a Sunday morning at 7:30 in the morning and spent two full days going through the reams of materials that had not been turned over to the 9/11 Commission which documented Iran’s involvement in 9/11.
So these are more missed opportunities, these are more intelligence failures, and they were driven, in my view and by the view of some of the analysts who looked at this, by a concept, this concept that there could be no cooperation between Iran and al-Qaida because they were like Irish Catholics and Irish Protestants, they were fighting all the time and they couldn’t possibly work together. Well, you know what? When it comes to killing Jews and killing Christians and killing Americans, they got along just fine.
One of the defectors I spoke to, and I name him in the first chapter of the book, Hamid Reza Zakari [ph], was a eyewitness to meetings, which I describe in the book, in January and May of 2001 between top al-Qaida officials who came to Iran to jointly plan the 9/11 attacks with the Iranian government.
Number two of al-Qaida, Ayman Zawkari [ph], the number two, Bin Laden’s deputy, came to Iran in January of 2001, he stayed for four days. Those meetings took place in a safe house the south of Teheran, I describe it in the book. Zawkari was an eyewitness to this why? Because he personally handled the security for the meetings. He met Zawkari for the meetings. He met Zawkari when he came in from the border and transported him to the meeting, that was his job, and he watched all the comings and goings and handled the al-Qaida team that stayed in Iran afterwards to coordinator with Iranian intelligence for the next couple of weeks to work out the details of how they were going to work together.
In May of 2001, Zaskari also handled the security for Sad Bin Laden, the eldest son of Usama Bin Laden, who came to meet with the leadership. He met with the top leader, the supreme leader. He met with Rafsanjani and three other top clerics in Iran. Zawkari personally took him from the hand-off point where he came in on a helicopter, personally transported him in the armored limousine to go meet with the leaders in Northern Teheran in Komene’s [ph] former residence.
Zawkari, the defector, came out in July 2001, went to the U.S. Embassy in Azabijon [ph], met with the CIA for several days and he told them there’s going to be a massive attack on America. On the 20th of Shahebar [ph], he used the Persian calendar date, the Iranian government is working together with al-Qaida -- he didn’t use the term “al-Qaida,” he said, “with Arab terrorists,” and they’re currently training 10 to 16 of these Arab terrorists at a new terrorist camp north of Teheran to do what? To hijack aircraft.
A man I call in the book CIA George is sent from Washington to debrief Zawkari and he ridicules him. He says, “You mean to tell me that you work for a new secret Iranian intelligence organization and I’ve never heard of it? Get out of here,” and literally he sends him packing, literally he sends him packing.
Now, one other detail I’ll tell you is that he gets out a calendar to convert the Persian date into the American date, into the Western date. He says, “Oh, 20th of Shahebar.”
“You mean the 10th of September, don’t you? Okay, I’ll stay tuned and you let me know when it’s the 10th of September if you have any better idea of what’s being planned.”
Well, you find out in the book that CIA George got the date wrong, and that in fact Zawkari got the date right. It was the 11th of September.
Iran today is a clear and present danger to the United States. There’s no reforming this regime. We have had for 20 years efforts by the U.S. government to attempt to influence their behavior, and every time we offer them trade, every time we offer to sell them aircraft or spare parts or this or that, they take them and they say they want more and they continue to attack us. There is no reforming this regime. There are no reformers in Iran. I think that’s what the recent election has shown as well. Never has regime change been so urgent and vital to U.S. security as it is today. You have a terrorist regime that has become a virtual nuclear weapons state and this regime will use those weapons if they obtain them.
Now, as I say, “Countdown to Crisis” is not a policy book, but at the end of laying out this factual basis of Iran’s support for terrorism, Iran’s relationship with al-Qaida and their nuclear weapons program, which I believe has come to fruition, I do have a couple of suggestions to make.
First of all, unlike some people on the left who hear that I am a conservative writer and they say, “Oh, my gosh, you’re trying to suggest we should attack Iran just like the president did in Iraq. Isn’t it the same thing, weapons of mass destruction, let’s go attack Iran?” I can hear the neocon drumbeat to war.
Well, I’ve got news for our friends on that side. I don’t believe we should be attacking Iran. In fact, I think we have a great secret weapon in this battle -- it’s the Iranian people. The Iranian people have overwhelmingly rejected the clerical dictatorship in Iran. They have massively boycotted these elections and they desperately are crying out for help.
The first thing we should do is to provide them with material assistance so they can overthrow the regime. That’s what they would like to do. They need our help, we know how to do it, we have a start.
I’ve got to tell you that there is a $3 million grant to the state department available for pro-democracy groups this year, and it was supposed to have been awarded a couple weeks ago and there are a number of groups that have applied for this grant. It’s being blocked by a staffer at the state department’s policy planning department, a woman named Susan Malony. Well, she used to work for Senator John Kerry and the council for foreign relations. And she has single-handedly, because those grants have to be given by consensus, single-handedly blocked the giving of this $3 million to various groups that want to promote democracy in Iran. Go figure.
It is much cheaper in terms of blood and treasure to spend $100 million helping pro-democracy groups inside Iran than to send the 4th Infantry Division or the U.S. Marines or to launch a massive bombing campaign. That’s the first thing we should do.
Second, the administration must begin to delegitimize this regime. Now, I commend the president for some of his recent statements on Iran. He says the right thing. Just a few days ago he mentioned Akbar Gangi [ph], who’s a journalist who’s in jail. He’s been on a hunger strike for over 30 days and the president has demanded his immediate release, and that’s the right thing to do, but we need to follow up on that. We need to delegitimize Iran in every single international organization where they sit. We need to get them out of the U.N. Human Rights Commission. It makes no sense for a dictatorship that has murdered over a hundred-thousand of its own citizens to sit over the Human Rights Commission. It’s outrageous.
Second, we should -- we should not recognize the fruit of a fake election. The Iranians are holding Stalinist elections. We should not recognize the president who was elected by whom? He was elected by a bunch of clerics in a backroom palaver at 2 o’clock in the morning. This is exactly how Joe Stalin had predicted. He said, “It’s not the people who vote who count, it’s the people who count the votes.” And the people who count the votes in Iran are the radical clerics.
Finally, and this is a less popular move, but it is very important to do, it’s necessary to do. The president must refer Iran’s case to the U.N. Security Council for action. Now, I know a lot of my good friends do not believe in the U.N. Security Council and, gee, I think there’s some reason to be a little bit skeptical when you look at what happened with Iraq in 2002 and 2003. And yet, it is a necessary step. It’s a diplomatic kabuki dance, but it is a very necessary step.
We had 12 years of U.N. Security Council resolutions against Saddam Hussein. We haven’t had a single one against the Islamic Republic of Iran. We need to put the Russians and the French and the Chinese face-to-face with their own actions and their own responsibilities: Are you in favor of a terrorist regime acquiring nuclear weapons? Is this what you support? Or do you think we should put pressure on them and will you engage with us in putting pressure on the regime? So we must take that diplomatic step. We have the clear legal right to do it.
Iran is in clear violation of its safeguards obligations at the International Atomic Energy Agency. Even the director of the IAEA has acknowledged that, Albaradi [ph]. The United States believes that Iran is also in violation of its Article II commitments under the non-proliferation treaty, and the Article II states that you can get access to civilian nuclear technology if, if you give up any effort to acquire the bomb. And it’s absolutely clear that the Iranians have been trying to acquire the bomb. So this is the necessary stuff. We must go to the U.N. Security Council.
Finally, I believe ultimately when you look at Iran’s human rights record, you compare it to a country such as South Africa which was banned by the international community for its human rights record and for its record of repression at home, you have got a regime that has murdered over 100,000 people, a regime which stones women to death by burying them in pits up to their necks and then throwing stones the size of cobblestones at them for adultery. You have a regime which has sent out hit squads to kill his opponents overseas. South Africa certainly compares to that, but this regime has a human rights record today which I think is one of the worst in the world. We should have the same kind of international sanctions against the Islamic Republic of Iran as we did against South Africa.
And finally, let me just tell you what the price of failure is. At the end of the book there’s a scenario which is -- some people will say it’s political fiction. It’s actually a war games scenario that’s been used at the Pentagon since 1998, and I’ll tell you at the end of this why. The Iranians give a nuclear weapon to a terrorist group. They charter a tramp steamer, go into the commercial sea off the coast of the United States. They bring an old technology stud missile launcher out from the hold, fire off a nuclear missile. It reaches Washington, D.C., Los Angeles or another city within three minutes. Hundreds of thousands of people die within seconds of the attack. And as our strategic command people look at the trajectory of the missile for the return address, they find a little speck just off the coast of the United States and they scratch their heads, “What do we do? Who’s responsible?”
This is a very realistic scenario. The U.S. began to war game this in 1998 when the Iranians conducted exactly this kind of test in the Caspian Sea. That’s the price of failure. We don’t have much time to get this right.
I’d love to take your questions. Thank you.
MALE SPEAKER: Good afternoon, Mr. Timmerman. You’ve painted a very compelling and dire scenario. But I would like to ask you a question about the underlying premise of the concept of a secular democracy in Iran. The defense minister of Iran has said that if they get a nuclear weapon or when they’re going to get a nuclear weapon they’re going to drop it on Israel and they’re going to exterminate the Jewish state and they don’t care how many casualties they sustain. What evidence is there that if it was a true democracy in Iran that the Iranian people don’t share that same view? The whole concept of Islamic democracy assumes that the democracy will not elect Islamic extremists. Is that really a valid assumption?
MR. TIMMERMAN: Thank you for that question. First of all, the Iranian people have overwhelmingly rejected the clerical regime and the clerics. What they are seeking is a secular regime, a non-Islamic regime, okay, not an Islamic Republic. Today what you have is an absolute clerical rule where the clerics sit over any kind of elected institutions. Democratic countries don’t wage wars when they’re not attacked. I think that’s a premise. Naton Shirosky [ph] has talked about this, I think, in great, great -- with much better eloquence than I could.
Undemocratic regimes are inherently belligerent. The Iranian people have no interest in Israel, have no interest in Israel. Israel is far away. The Iranian people would like to put bread on the table, they’d like to reduce unemployment from 25 percent to maybe 5 percent. They’d like to live normal lives. They would like to be considered as other than terrorists because of their nationality and their passport. They would like their country to become a normal country again. And frankly, they would like to have very good relations with the United States and with Israel.
Remember the Book of Ruth. There’s a long relationship between the Persians and the Jews. This goes back for several thousand years. There’s a very -- there had been a very thriving Jewish community in Iran, most of them right here now in Los Angeles today and some of them are in Israel as well. But I believe that that Jewish community will go back to Iran and will reassert itself and will play a very leading role in Iran’s future.
FEMALE SPEAKER: Thank you very much for a very, very interesting talk. If it’s possible that the WMDs are buried right in the heart of Teheran and the people are used as human shields, why can’t we use a military option to -- I mean if we could possible somehow go out and take out some of these weapons, why is the military option ruled out if they are really not buried right in the middle of Teheran? Why do we rule it out? Because I think the going to get the masses is a long-term option. I can’t imagine turning around such a huge population.
MR. TIMMERMAN: My response to that is very simple. These targets are deeply buried inside the mountains. This is a technology that the Iranians learned from North Korea -- I describe that in the book as well -- their long-standing relationship with North Korea and going -- visiting those buried bases inside North Korea. Of course there’s a military option, but it’s very, very costly.
FEMALE SPEAKER: Thank you. Knowing that the EU overwhelmingly said that Israel was the greatest threat to world peace, how do we, even after the London bombings which is now being blamed on Israel and George Bush for perpetrating them so that we could continue our war on terror, how do we convince the EU that Israel is actually a partner in peace and democracy in this world and not one of the greatest threats to world peace?
MR. TIMMERMAN: Well, I’m not sure that we do. And what you’re seeing in Europe is very sad. It is the revival of an ancient anti-Semitism in virtually every single European society including Britain. It’s very deeply rooted in France, especially in the foreign ministry in France. It’s deeply rooted in other European countries and it’s a problem. And I don’t think you will convince them that Israel is an ally. They see Israel as an enemy.
In the end, however, what is going to count is whether the European countries stand with us in facing up to Iranian terrorism, in facing up to al-Qaida terrorism and in facing down Iran’s nuclear weapons program.
FEMALE SPEAKER: I have two questions, one is about the timeframe, and then we’ve heard people, even in front of this group, say there’s like 18 months to three years before Iran actually possesses their bomb. And then the second question has to do with the European countries, and they must know all the things that are in your book, right? Well, don’t they -- you know, what’s their plan? What are they -- what kind of things are they gaming in the, you know, with their ships and everything?
MR. TIMMERMAN: Let me take the European side of this first. The Europeans don’t feel threatened by Iran and that’s why they are not pressing the Iranians more vigorously in the negotiations that they’re currently carrying out. I hate to be cynical about this, but the Europeans look at the Iranian nuclear program and they look at Iran’s statements about the United States and about Israel and they say, oh, well, if the Iranians do have a bomb we know who’s going to get it and it’s not going to be us. And that is a cynical attitude, I think, which really does drive a number of European leaders and it’s devastating.
As far as them knowing about the Uranium program, you’re absolutely correct. The Germans, in particular, have very good intelligence, so do the French, about Iran’s nuclear program, about their procurements and about their support for terrorism and they have not always been very helpful in cracking down on that.
In the book you’re going to see some stories that go back to the ‘80s and the early ‘90s about procurement networks in Europe that the Germans in particular were incapable or unwilling to shut down. You know that work was very well known in the late ‘80s and the 1990s and they did nothing to shut it down. They complained that they did not have the export control laws to be able to shut it down effectively. So there’s a great deal of responsibility. If you want to spread the blame, there’s blame for a lot of folks here.
MR. TIMMERMAN: In the timeframe of the nuclear weapons development. I don’t think that we have the luxury to think that we have 18 months or two years or three years. This is a program which has been going on for 20 years inside Iran. One nuclear analyst I interviewed for the book said, you know, “If the Iranians have not succeeded by this time, it’s the slowest uranium enrichment program in history.”
The technology is difficult. It’s true, it is difficult, but it’s not 20 years difficult. And they have spent a lot of money on this. They’ve brought in a lot of foreign scientists to help them. They have a lot of their own very competent scientists who’d be working on this as well. I don’t you can assume that they do not have a nuclear weapons capability today.
And let me just add one more thing. Remember Colin Powell in November of 2004, December of 2004, his last trip as he was leaving his position as Secretary of State, he went down to Chili and he told reporters that we had an intelligence walk-in who was a missile scientist from Iran and he brought a thousand pages of documents. The documents all focused on one thing, not how to enrich uranium, not how to build the missiles, but how to mate the actual nuclear warhead to the actual Shahab-3 missile which is in Iranian inventory. You do that at the very end. That’s what you do when you’ve got the warheads and you’ve got the missiles. I would not assume that we have any time to spare on this whatsoever.
I have time for two more questions, I’m told.
MALE SPEAKER: Good afternoon. Thanks very much for your presentation this afternoon. Question, I have two questions, choose whichever you’d like to answer. First, you talk about CIA George, obviously not -- obviously in derisive tones, which I think is accurate or at least appropriate considering that they’re failures. But I’m wondering how is Porter Gass doing? Is he making progress, headway in shaking up the Department? It seems to me that we’ve got a situation like in the ‘50s when we have progressives, you know, deeply entrenched in the bureaucracy of the CIA.
The other question I had was massively boycotted elections in Iran, that seems to be the most under-reported story of the year, in my opinion. If you’d like to make a comment on that.
MR. TIMMERMAN: Okay, very quickly. Porter Gass has done something very important. He’s fired 20 people, and I don’t mean that derisively. He’s fired 20 people at the top, okay. He fired, for instances, Steve Cappis [ph], who is the head of Middle East operations. A disaster. A man who refused to send people to interview human sources on the ground, deserved to be unemployed for the rest of his life. Well, Porter Gass helped him to meet that goal.
And you might also recall that about two weeks ago Porter Gass announced that we know where Bin Laden is, we just can’t get him. And asked why we couldn’t get him, he said, “Bin Laden is being sheltered by a sovereign state.” Now, “sheltered by a sovereign state.” Now, scratch your head and think what that means for a second. It means that some government, some head of state is using the powers of that state to actually protect and to shelter Usama Bin Laden.
Now, Parvez Musharrof of Pakistan has been the victim of seven assassination attempts by al-Qaida. Do you think that he is really sheltering Usama Bin Laden with the power of the state? He’d like to kill the guy. He tried to kill him seven times. Karzai in Afghanistan has been in open war with al-Qaida since he has been president. Do you think he wants to use the power of the sovereign state to protect and to shelter Usama Bin Laden? No. So there are some things happening. We do have some problems, but there is some progress being made.
Do you want to combine the two questions? Do you want to ask your question as well?
MALE SPEAKER: Given the problem that Russia has had with Chechen terrorists, why do you think Putin seems to be so friendly with the Iranian nuclear program?
MR. TIMMERMAN: Money, first of all. Second, there’s a document in the back of “Countdown to Crisis” which was a study for the Russia joint staff in 1995 which was marked “approved.” There’s an appendix, I didn’t talk about the appendix of the book. There’s about 50 pages of documents in the back that are quite interesting. I could go on about that for some time.
But in this Russia study they essentially looked at arming Iran and Iraq with nuclear and ballistic missile technologies. So they believe, the Russians actually concluded it was in their interests as a means of checking U.S. power to see a nuclear armed Iran and a nuclear armed or a nuclear capable Iraq. So think about that for a second.
Very quickly, can we take this one?
MALE SPEAKER: Hi there. I was just wondering if you found out anything in the course of your research about Iran’s relationship with Cuba?
MR. TIMMERMAN: Well, certainly the most notable part of that has been an oil relationship. The Iranians are helping Castro with oil, and the Cubans have been helping the Iranians by blocking, helping to block satellite transmissions from the United States into Iran. So there is a relationship. They get along quite well, thank you, and there’s been an economic relationship as well.
MALE SPEAKER: How about chemical weapons?
MR. TIMMERMAN: That I don’t go into. Thank you.
MR. HOROWITZ: Thank you. That was excellent, Ken, and quite frightening. I just wanted before closing to remind everybody that the Restoration Weekend this year is going to be held at the Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach, one of the more -- most spectacular hotels certainly in America. We will be honoring John Ashcroft. Senator John Allen will be there. We’ll be honoring Scott Montoya who won the Navy Cross in Iraq. We’ll have Peggy Newman and Joe Scarsboro and Daniel Pipes and a lot of other very interesting people. And I’m going to bring five of the legislators, state legislators who sponsored the Academic Bill of Rights. I hope you’ll speak to Mike and sign up for this. It will be a great weekend. Thank you all for coming.