Iran stockpiling food

#1
Exclusive - Iran poised to start big feed grain imports | Reuters

The government, which had bought more than 2 million tonnes of bread-making wheat recently, is now poised to make substantial feed grain deals, traders said.
...
"I have several Iranian buyers who are currently seeking a total of about 250,000 tonnes of feed wheat, corn and barley but I cannot sell it because I do not know how they will pay," one European grains broker said.
It seems the Iranian government has concluded that food security is critical at a time of increasing international pressure and isolation.

I presume the saboteurs responsible for offing key Iranian figures and (if so) a missile base must also come to the same conclusion that Iranian food stockpiles are a crucial pillar that is propping the regime up. If the food stocks were somehow contaminated or destroyed, the pressure on the Iranian government to capitulate to international demands would start becoming unbearable.

Obviously, food stockpiles are also crucial to undertaking war - regardless of which side starts it first.
 
#2
Tricky one this. The forecast for the harvest this year is good to above average, but there are rumours that Pakistan is acting as a proxy buyer, then bartering across the border. So, if the harvest is going to be good, why stockpile?
I suspect for two reasons-Reserves are probably low, due to drought and disease over the last couple of years, but I think a lot of it comes down to the subsidies the Iranian government pays to the public.

They recently did a big change that caused prices to rocket, and caused a lot of domestic complaint. With galloping inflation, too much cash chasing limited grain stocks, prices would escalate outside the budget of the poor. If the supply side increases, some of that inflationary pressure comes off. (It'll probably transfer to petrol, which for some reason Iran has a chronic shortage of.)

Poisoning /infesting grain is a really illegal but above all, DUMB idea. Agri pests show no discrimination over national borders, and the last thing we want is a manufactured famine throughout Central Asia.
 
#3
Poisoning /infesting grain is a really illegal but above all, DUMB idea. Agri pests show no discrimination over national borders, and the last thing we want is a manufactured famine throughout Central Asia.
Just trying to get into the minds of the saboteurs. Heeding international law seems to not rank highly on their list of priorities.
 
#8
Another act of senseless Iranian aggression, they'll be unsportingly building air raid shelters next.
Are they good protection against instant glass production?
 
#10
Just trying to get into the minds of the saboteurs. Heeding international law seems to not rank highly on their list of priorities.
"International law"??????

Is that the thing that the US/UK demands that everybody sticks too when preaching to the unwashed masses from the netherworld - but is happy to ignore or flout when it suits themselves?

Is that the thing that legions of US (and UK to a lesser extent) 'conservative' bloggers claim doesn't exist?

Which "international laws" have the Iranians not heeded recently?
 
#11
Obviously, food stockpiles are also crucial to undertaking war - regardless of which side starts it first.
Another act of senseless Iranian aggression, ...
Indeed. ;)

And such blatant acts of regional terrorism against their peace loving neighbours must be met with the most severe of collective international responses.

:x
 
#12
Depends upon what you are trying to achieve surely?
(Sigh) At the moment there's a roughly 50/50 split through the ex-Soviet "Stan" republics who are wheat growing areas of the Caucasus. Some incline to the West, some to Russia, and a handful to whichever is the most powerful next door neighbour. All have fragile economies.

The first nitwit to deliberately unleash something there will bring down the whole house of cards. And it won't be the Iranians infecting their own stock, so the finger will point at 1) the Joos 2) the USA.

'Cos it won't be the Russians. They are currently alternating between profitable exports or net importers, depending on the harvest. They lost a lot of crop last year, so froze exports. Why would they risk their own export crop, or reduce the amount that would be on the world market if this years harvest fails? That would not only eat into their foreign exchange reserves, but destabilise their own southern flank.

And the USA is a huge wheat exporter. So, is the world going to thank them for profiteering at their expense? No. The USA would probably find itself sending grain for free to affected areas just to keep them onside.

So. The Joos? No one doubts its them with the motorbikes and sticky bombs, but its 'tolerable' violence. Most of the Arab world probably has a sneaking respect for the tidy way they do it. Unleashing famine across an area still struggling with the Arab Spring? Madness.

And since Pakistan won't play, where do you think the logistics trail for all the troops in Afghan runs through? Yep. That's right. Through those Caucasian wheatfields...

There's a big difference between flouting 'international law' by zapping a fine, upstanding member of the oppositions armed forces /political/scientific/religious establishment, and kicking away the economic foundations of an entire region. It's not just illegal. It's wildly disproportionate. And dumb.

There's an ongoing natural pest problem with something called 'Wheat Rust Fungus' that's already been a significant problem in 2011. Just keeping the lid on that has been more than enough to worry about, let alone start something deliberately.
 
#13
#14
:)

Over several threads on ARRSE, IndependentBoffin has repeatedly demonstrated a determination to propagate his biased (and myopic) agenda(s) rather than to present solid, coherent and credible analysis. :wink:
 
#15
:)

Over several threads on ARRSE, IndependentBoffin has repeatedly demonstrated a determination to propagate his biased (and myopic) agenda(s) rather than to present solid, coherent and credible analysis. :wink:
Mea culpa!

I'm biased for Jesus Christ! :)
And my vision is myopic compared to God's :)

1 Corinthians 1:27 "But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong."
Anyday, I would rather be a usable fool in God's plans and hands, than a wise man left to my own strengths and agendas :)

@Hectortheinspector.
There are lots of other chemical agents the saboteurs can hypothetically use to contaminate grain that has no risk of spreading beyond its application point. Dimethylmercury is an interesting example. With its extreme toxicity, high vapour pressure and ability to permeate through many barrier materials - latex, PVC, neoprene, butyl rubber..., it would be an ideal candidate for rendering food stockpiles worthless. Contamination followed by a warning that the deed has been done would miminise casualties.

(Of course I do not endorse attacking a nation's food supply)
 
#16
Frankly, once its in storage, its pretty much inert.

I also think you underestimate the sheer size required for bulk grain storage. Stores containing tens of thousands of tonnes are common.
Grain storage techniques ... - Bulk storage - Factors influencing the choice of bulk store

The main risk to storage is oxidation (so its usually stored in airtight bags or sealed stores) , wet, and vermin. Rather than mess about with weird high pressure chemicals you could just as easily knock a hole in the silo with a hammer, and let the rats get in and shit in it.

Most grain is dried before storage, but over/under drying damages it.
To contaminate a shipload of grain you would need a vast amount of agent, and without complex disperal technology, you wouldn't even get past the top few inches.

What you describe is basically no more disruptive than those sickos who put spiked tins on the shelf in Tesco. At a national scale, its miniscule.
 
#17
:)

Over several threads on ARRSE, IndependentBoffin has repeatedly demonstrated a determination to propagate his biased (and myopic) agenda(s) rather than to present solid, coherent and credible analysis. :wink:
Very well.

I have studied extensively the approaches to the problem of food supply during a state of war. Stockpiling is extremely difficult, expensive to do without spoiling the supplies and relies on several variables beyond the control of governments.

It is desirable for those wishing to conduct a war but it is not essential. Its importance depends upon a great many factors.
 
#18
Frankly, once its in storage, its pretty much inert.

I also think you underestimate the sheer size required for bulk grain storage. Stores containing tens of thousands of tonnes are common.
Grain storage techniques ... - Bulk storage - Factors influencing the choice of bulk store

The main risk to storage is oxidation (so its usually stored in airtight bags or sealed stores) , wet, and vermin. Rather than mess about with weird high pressure chemicals you could just as easily knock a hole in the silo with a hammer, and let the rats get in and shit in it.

Most grain is dried before storage, but over/under drying damages it.
To contaminate a shipload of grain you would need a vast amount of agent, and without complex disperal technology, you wouldn't even get past the top few inches.

What you describe is basically no more disruptive than those sickos who put spiked tins on the shelf in Tesco. At a national scale, its miniscule.
The vapour pressure of a substance is a measure of how volatile it is. DMM's high vapour pressure means that you can expect toxic vapours to emanate from it.

Thus my reasoning is that even if a small vial of dimethylmercury was broken in a grain silo, the high vapour pressure would mean that it would start to diffuse throughout the stored grain.

The key variable here is how absorbent grain is to DMM. If it is very absorbent, it will limit the contaminated volume for a given volume of DMM. If it is not absorbent (e.g. glass or metal spheres) then eventually the DMM will diffuse throughout the bulk of it.

I am not aware of any studies done on the absorption/diffusion of DMM in grains, and although DMM is fairly straightforward to synthesise even I shudder at the thought of playing with it to find out!

Karen Wetterhahn - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The delayed effect of DMM also means that fear will play havoc with the stockpiles. No one will buy DMM-tainted grain if it was publically revealed by the saboteurs that the grain was tainted, the government confirms it but says it is 1000 times below the lethal dose...and you just have to wait a few months to see if the government was right.

Wetterhahn, a specialist in toxic metals, was accidentally poisoned in her lab by a few drops of the toxic, colorless compound, which penetrated her protective glove; Dimethylmercury is a synthetic compound used almost exclusively as a reference standard in a particular type of specialized chemical analysis. Wetterhahn was investigating the toxic properties of another highly toxic heavy metal, cadmium, and was using dimethylmercury as a point of reference.

The accidental spill occurred on August 14, 1996 but symptoms of her mercury poisoning were not detected until six months later, at which time the poisoning was irreversible. Wetterhahn suddenly became very ill in January 1997 and was hospitalized; she then went into a coma which lasted until she died in June.

Wetterhahn recalled that she had spilled several drops of dimethylmercury from the tip of the pipette onto her latex gloved hand. Tests later showed that this can rapidly permeate different kinds of latex gloves and enter the skin within about 15 seconds.[1][2]

Five months after the exposure, it became evident that some initial serious neurological symptoms such as loss of balance and slurred speech were the result of a very serious debilitating mercury intoxication.
...
Wetterhahn died a few months later, less than a year after her initial exposure.
 
#19
Very well.

I have studied extensively the approaches to the problem of food supply during a state of war. Stockpiling is extremely difficult, expensive to do without spoiling the supplies and relies on several variables beyond the control of governments.

It is desirable for those wishing to conduct a war but it is not essential. Its importance depends upon a great many factors.
In our case as we can buy food off international markets even during war, from countries not directly affected by the war...so stockpiling food isn't so essential for us.

Iran's case is a little different. They are increasingly isolated from the international financial systems and even if war didn't break out, they need stockpiles of food to ease jitters over uncertainties in their supply.

If war did break out, in Iran's case they would still be isolated from international financial systems, if not more so. Thus it makes sense in either scenario to stockpile food, and likewise targetting food stockpiles is fair game during war (perhaps not unconventionally though!) to try to break their will and win the war with minimal loss of life.

So on one hand Iran has the "maybe" of their stockpiles being affected by spoiling, and the "certainty" that they will need them to resist sanctions and/or war. Thus their calculation as any sensible person would expect, would be to vote for the certainty rather than the maybe.

How well does decentralised stockpiling of food work? E.g. on a village, city or county level? The more cellular the stockpiles the more resilient they would be to sabotage, bombing and pestilence.
 
#20
How well does decentralised stockpiling of food work? E.g. on a village, city or county level? The more cellular the stockpiles the more resilient they would be to sabotage, bombing and pestilence.
Decentralised stock piles are harder to keep municipal control over so the obvious benefits of difussion are offset by some costs which are difficult to grapple with. When it was tried by Germany it proved very difficult to ensure the stocks were properly regulated. Diffuse storage mechanisms require high levels of logistical and administrative sophistication which become increasingly difficult to sustain during war time.

It is extremely difficult to starve a country into submission, even an isolated one. There will always be neutrals willing to do business with both sides in a conflict, to say nothing of those with preferences. I do appreciate what you are saying in terms of access to the financial markets, however substitution can be made to work well where options are limited.

Grain requisitioning and mass starvation in Stalin's era does seem to suggest a sufficiently well-armed state system is capable of sustaining itself regardless of how bad things get for the citizenry. Terror, mass execution and coercion became the instruments of preservation in the Soviet Union and I see no reason they could not equally be put to use in Iran.

I am not aware of mass starvation ever winning a war. It is best considered as one 'tool' which helps lower morale in the enemy and pile the pressure upon their government. However all the attempts I have studied to win a conflict outright by this mechanism have failed, regardless of the considerable degree of sophistication that went into the planning stages.

PM me if you want some more info on this.
 

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