Sunday, February 12, 2006

A bet: Will the US or Israel attack Iran?

The gambling service, Intrade, forecast about a 33% chance that Israel or the US will attack Iran's nuclear facilities before March 2007: see Intrade

If you invest $1 you will have roughly $3 returned to you should an attack occur.

The odds here were much shorter a few weeks ago. Perhaps there has been some effect of the offer by China and the United States, made a couple of weeks back, to agree to allow Iran to use nuclear fuels provided these were enriched in Russia. The Iranians themselves have not rejected the deal but seem lukewarm towards it.

Nevertheless the gambling markets still see a reasonably high probability of action - they are forecasting the US/Israel remain reasonably likely to strike. I am interested in these types of betting markets and will watch what happens to this one as the year unfolds.

My own view is that allowing Iran to gain access to nuclear weapons would be dangerous, I do not believe that the Iranians are seeking nuclear power for energy purposes alone. If Iran possessed weapons, other fanatical Middle East regimes would follow suit. Indeed nuclear non-proliferation, globally, would likely break down completely. Then the major sources of the world's oil supplies would be subject to nuclear 'protection'. It would be a recipe for creating serious conflict.

Update: The odds might well shorten as the Iranian PM announced today that the proposal to buy enriched uranium from elsewhere would leave Iran open to limitations in supply. Iran has further indicated that it might follow North Korea and abandon the nonproliferation treaty.
American officials and the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency have said that the treaty provision allowing countries to renounce it, with 90 days' notice, constitutes a major flaw in the effort to keep nations from becoming nuclear powers. Countries can endorse the treaty then abandon it on short-term notice and began making weapons once it is abandoned.

Update: The price shortened again this morning by a couple of points as Britain's Sunday Times reported the US had drawn up firm plans to knock out Iran's nuclear facilities with deep bunker-destroying bombing raids supported by missile attacks from submarine. See here.


Anonymous said...

Interesting predicament for the western world,is it not? I am not convinced on the merits of the proposition that Iran is determined to develop nuclear weapons. Reasonably informed bloggers in the US allude to US intelligence which puts any such capacity at still at least ten years in the future. The issue is not the product, enriched atomic fuels, but the capacity to do so, otherwise the Russians would not have offered to do the processing.

I am equally unconvinced that the Iranian's are in a desparate race to develop the bomb. Has similarities to the pre cold-war period does it not. They would definitely have the know how, no shortage of bright Iranian MIT grads about.

The US would gain absolutely nothing out of this, there are no appeasement issues as there were in the 1930's, Pakistan, China and parts of the old USSR all have the weapon now. Any such attack would also severely disrupt world oil supplies and affect world monetary systems as well. So this is a very high risk game.

I have no certainty that an attack on Iran is an immediate solution to a an unknown future possibility. However were an assessment that Iran was indeed posessed of messianic delusions and prepared to go to any ends to bring this about in the middle east correct, then the region is going to burn anyway.

The US would be extremely imprudent to attack whether Israel recoves from its political vacuum and goes it alone is always a risk. I think the Israeli's will keep building up the Kurdish wall first.

Finally, why does Iran not have the right to have a working efficient nuclear fuel industry for energy into the future, maybe they know more about the parlous state of their oil reserves than we give them credit for.

Bring Back EP at LP said...

Iran is ONLY a threat IF it acquires nuclear weapons if the Iran population want to commit mass suicide.
If they launch a nuke at Israel then Israel would launch umpteen back at them.

I do note the irony of Nations that have nukes protesting that Iran amy gain Nukes!

hc said...

Homer, I think Iran is presenting itself as a target to Iran by pursuing the current path of development. Israel regards Iran as its main enemy and the main funder of terrorism.

Anonymous, Is energy as a replacement for oil the issue in Iran? I find that difficult to believe. A problem in assessing things here is that oil reserve estimates are so poor - not just for Iran but for Saudi Arabia as well.

The US would gain something if it stopped Iran from gaining nuclear weapons and then threatening world oil supplies.

Thomas Friedman in a recent New York Times article cites that snake Ahmadinejad as saying 'Our enemies cannot do a damn thing. We do not need you at all. But you are in need of the Iranian nation". This threat would become serious if Iran had a nuclear shield. I will look for the vlink and see if I can post it above.

Anonymous said...

As long as there are 150,000 US soldiers and 80,000 UK soldiers hostage to the Iraqi Shiite community playing good quizlings no one will attack Iran.

Do you think that the Shiites of Iraq will remain docile should Iran be attacked?

The Iraqi resistance, which is mainly from the Sunnah community, is praying for an attack on Iran.

An attack on Iran will hasten the inevitable defeat of the US and the UK in Iraq and the inevitable Islamization of the whole middle east, including US stooges like Jordan and Egypt.

Bring Back EP at LP said...

Iran, as opposed to Iraq, has a very sophisticated radar system, some very fast highly technological ballistic missiles, modern jet fighters and a well armed army.

If Israel struck Iran then it would be returned in spades.

I can't see the USA fighting Iran.
They have troops in Iraq , aircraft carriers which are vulnerable if Iran is attacked.

Remember if Iran is attacked then they are allowed to strike back.

I would assume given it has been Iran that has been public about all this they are very confident of giving anyone a bloody nose or worse if attacked.

hc said...

Homer, I have heard this 'hostage' line a few times and don't have the military knowledge to know if it is true. I think the US/Israel would stage a pretty 'clean strike' that would knock out the underground installations.

The latest news reports suggest the US are preparing aircraft carriers to launch missiles as well as bombing raids.

Anonymous said...

The attack has allready been planned, it just comes down to timing it right. Let iran go over the 3000 centrifuge mark(Makes a weapon in less than a year).This will be the redline, Especially for Israel, Which said by the end of this year(2007) they will see if anything has worked and decide what is best for Israel. 6 more months of threats and headgames before any real actions happens.We know sanctions wont work but have to go through the motions. The attack will be a big one -Not a few surgical strikes, But strikes that will kill tens of thousands of people. Doing so sends a message and helps stop the potential for a retrobution strike form Iran.Anyways, Keep a bicycle handy-I fear in the next year gas prices will be in the statusphere!

hc said...

Anonymous, Any evidence?