Chuck Hagel and Iran

From The New York Times:

Iran Said to Be Set to Hasten Uranium Enrichment

By Alan Cowell | Published: January 31, 2013

LONDON — Iran has told the United Nations nuclear supervisory body that it plans to install more sophisticated equipment at its principal nuclear enrichment plant, a diplomat said on Thursday, enabling it to greatly accelerate processing of uranium in a move likely to worry the United States, Israel and the West.

The diplomat, based in Vienna, the headquarters of the International Atomic Energy Agency, cited a letter from Iranian officials to the I.A.E.A. saying it wants to upgrade its main enrichment plant at Natanz. The upgrade could speed up enrichment by as much as two or three times, the diplomat said, requesting anonymity in light of the confidential nature of the Iranian note.

The United States and its allies accuse Tehran of seeking the technology for nuclear weapons, but Iran says it wants to use enriched uranium purely for civilian and peaceful purposes.

The disclosure came at a time of high regional tension, a day after American officials said Israeli warplanes struck deep inside Syrian territory. The American officials said they believed the target was a convoy carrying sophisticated antiaircraft weaponry on the outskirts of the Syrian capital, Damascus, that had been intended for the Hezbollah Shiite militia in Lebanon.

More at the link.

Your Editor finds that story even more interesting than usual, given the Senate Armed Services Committee hearings on President Obama’s nomination of former Senator Chuck Hagel (R-NE) to be the next Secretary of Defense. Again, from the Times:1

Under aggressive but at times disjointed questioning from (Senator James) Inhofe (R-OK), Mr. Hagel was asked why he thought the Iranian Foreign Ministry so strongly supported his nomination as defense secretary.2 Mr. Hagel swiftly replied, “I have a difficult time enough with American politics.” He then said, “I have no idea.”

Under more gentle but persistent questioning from (Senator Carl) Levin (D-MI), Mr. Hagel said that he had voted against some unilateral American sanctions against Iran in 2001 and 2002 because it was a different era. “We were at a different place with Iran at that time,” he said.

Mr. Hagel faltered at one point, saying shortly before noon that he strongly supported the president’s policy on “containment” of Iran. He was quickly handed a note, which he read and then corrected himself, “Obviously, we don’t have a position on containment.”

At that point Mr. Levin interjected, “We do have a position on containment, which is we do not favor containment.” The Obama administration’s policy remains prevention of Iran obtaining nuclear weapons. Iran says its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

In his opening statement, Mr. Hagel said that he was fully committed to the president’s goal of preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons. He also said that the United States must lead other nations in confronting threats, use all tools of American power to protect its people and “maintain the strongest military in the world.”

Mr Hagel came out looking pretty bad when he pointed out that he “questioned” the “surge” which turned the tide and won the war in Iraq, and said that he didn’t think it was required. Given that the “surge” is credited with winning that too-long war, Senator John McCain (R-AZ), formerly a close friend of Mr Hagel but no longer,3 said:

I think history has already made a judgment about the surge, sir, and you’re on the wrong side of it.

Donald Douglas was not very charitably inclined concerning Mr Hagel’s performance:

Chuck Hagel’s Bumbling, Stumbling Testimony at Senate Confirmation Hearings

Hagel’s getting ripped on Twitter, and for good reason. God, he’s looks like a blithering idiot:

And lots more at Twitchy, “Snort: Senators reportedly in ‘shock’ over Hagel’s ineptitude, bumbling,” and “Cruzed’! Senator Cruz crushes Hagel; Chuck Todd, other lapdogs try to save Hagel, slam Cruz.”

Dr Douglas said that he’d look around for a youtube of Senator Cruz’s questioning of Mr Hagel, and add it once he found it, so check back with his site later.4

THE FIRST STREET JOURNAL is not editorially opposed to the confirmation of Mr Hagel, though I would not restrict the individual article authors from public opposition on this site. Your Editor noted previously that there are some legitimate questions concerning Mr Hagel’s attitudes toward Israel, but that the Secretary of Defense does not make policy concerning Israel; the President does. Given Mr Hagel’s answers to the questions he was asked, it seems obvious to your Editor that the nominee will be the perfect little toady, supporting with little question whatever policy he is told to support. Of course, Mr Hagel seems to have already been on board with the President’s policies, and only minor differences could have been expected anyway. If the Republicans manage to block the confirmation of former Senator Hagel, President Obama will simply nominate another perfect little toady. He won the election, he is the Commander-in-Chief, and he gets to set whatever military policies he wishes; our Constitution is very clear on that point.
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  1. Your Editor timed it perfectly; this was my last free article from The New York Times for the month, accessed on the last day of te month! :)
  2. The hyperlink was added by the Editor, and was not part of the Times’ original.
  3. Senator Hagel changed his position on the Iraq war, from one of support to one of opposition. More, in 2008 he refused to endorse his then-friend, Senator McCain, for the presidency in 2008, and supported Barack Obama.
  4. I’d suggest checking his site in general; Dr Douglas’ style makes it more probable that he’d add such a video as a new post rather than an update to the one linked.

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