Espionage, International Politics, and the Transfer of Technology

by RSBailey  

The Dec. 23 failed launch of a Russian Soyuz-2.1b heavy launch vehicle from the Plesetsk Spaceport, in northern Russia, put me to adding apples and oranges and coming up with a bowl of mixed fruit.  According to the BBC, the payload was simply a “communications satellite,” but called it a “Meridian military communications satellite for the Russian armed forces.”  A Google search of Plesetsk reveals it is almost in the center of the northern taiga, and is aclosed city”. The majority of the inhabitants are military servicemen.   Sound like a military installation?  Hmmm? 

 This was the first failure of the Soyuz 2.1b.  Only a few days before one shot off from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and carried astronauts and cosmonauts to the International Space Station.  Five days after another launched from the European Space Center in French Guiana putting six Galileo communications satellites into orbit.

 It reminded me off a rash of failed launches from Vandenberg Air Force Base in the 1980s.  It seems they just couldn’t get anything to fly into outer space.   Several years later I read that the failed launches were a ploy to hide spy satellites so “the enemy”, then the nefarious Soviet Union, wouldn’t know where they were or what they were looking at.

 “Why would the Russians be intent on hiding a spy satellite?”  I asked myself.  Well it’s certainly no secret they have major misgivings about the Eastern European missile defense system we want to build in places like Hungary and Poland in order to protect NATO from an Iranian missile attack.  “What’s going on with Iran?”  I wondered.

 Let’s take a look at recent events.    On Nov. 12 an Iranian missile base suffered a mysterious explosion just “as Iran had achieved a major milestone in the development of a new missile.”  Thirty miles away the “architect” of the Iranian missile program was also killed, along with 17 soldiers.  That must have been one hell of an explosion.  There were murmurings of an Israeli raid.

 Then the Iranians “shot down” an American remote controlled spy drone that we claim was patrolling over Afghanistan.  Then the Iranians displayed the drone totally intact and it turned out to be a super secret “PQ-170” stealth drone. 

 “What’s going on here?”  I asked myself.   The Iranians claimed said it wasn’t shot down, that they enlisted the services of a computer hacker with a GPS device that intercepted drone and landed it safely in Iran.   Those clever Persians.  Our military has made it clear that this sort of thing couldn’t happen, even if our fleet of drones is suffering from some sort of demon computer virus infection.

Add to that some threats to the US to remove an aircraft carrier from the Straits of Hormuz (as it was already on a planned exit), and the claimed firing of “undetectable” long range missiles by the Iranians on naval maneuvers in the gulf.  And the latest, of course, is our navy, with more aircraft carriers moving into the Gulf of Hormuz, saving an Iranian ship in distress in a selfless humanitarian act.

 And let us not forget the sudden, under-reported, Iranian call for the Nuclear Powers to return to the negotiating table in regard to its nuclear program.    What’s up, Doc?  It’s no secret the US doesn’t want the Iranians wielding nukes and that we do want them back at that nuclear negotiating table.  It reminded me of the Metternichian two track style of negotiation that Henry Kissinger initiated against North Viet Nam in the 70s, talking peace in Paris while relentlessly bombing Hanoi.  It was a controversial approach but it got him the Nobel Peace Prize.

 If the truth were to be told, the US could mercilessly chastise the Iranian’s 7 days a week from now until doomsday.  The Iraqi’s Revolutionary Guard did it repeatedly in the 1980’s.  If a push came to a shove, it would end up with someone in Washington having to say something to the effect that, “After today the world will have a hard time finding Iran.”

 There must be more here than meets the eye.  What else is on the table besides apples and oranges?   A quick look at the map might explain it.  When it comes to the Sh’ite government of Iran, there is no love lost with their neighbors, the Sunni Al Qaeda and their Afghani bully boys, the Taliban.  Add to that, that we want to be out of Afghanistan by 2014.  Meanwhile, Al Qaeda’s influence in Pakistan has increased.   They are far from done.  How do we keep them in check?

We’ve proven that our spy and attack drones are effective in knocking off the leaders of the Taliban. Maybe this is a way of giving the Iranians a bit of a quid pro quo.   If we give the Iranian the tech, they could kick the hell out of the Taliban and Al Qaeda for us.  Is this why the Taliban have just opened an office in Qatar to participate in talks with the US?

 Not a bad plan.  It seems everyone and his brother has stealth drones in development these days.  Pretty soon South American drug cartels will probably be buying them on the black market.  And if we didn’t give the Iranians the technology, the Chinese would probably just trade them some of the fleet they have in development for a few million barrels of oil.

 And then there are the fringe benefits.   The U.S. has just closed an arms deal with the United Arab Emirates for $3.48 billion.  They get 96 sophisticated missiles and a missile defense system as part of “other technology”.   Are we spreading the drones around?  The Pentagon says the deal will help secure a “stable” Persian Gulf.  The Obama Administration also announced a deal to sell Saudi Arabia $30 billion in F-15SA fighter jets.  This could be good for business.

 But what about Russia and that lost spy satellite?  What are they up to?  Does anyone remember the Russo-Persian Treaty of Friendship of 1921? It gives Russia the right of intervention when it comes to Iran, especially “If a third party should attempt to carry out a policy of usurpation …” Seems to me if I had that right, I’d like to keep a judicious and possibly concealed eye on events.

 Would someone please pass the oranges and an apple, and maybe a few dates and a fig or two?



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