November 6, 2009

Any remaining doubts about Iran's nuclear intentions?

Events of the past few weeks should quiet any remaining skeptics about Iran's true ambitions for its nuclear research and development program. While many of these events taken individually may not be the "smoking gun" that Iran's apologists (IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei/Muhammad al-Barada'i comes to mind) demand, when taken in the aggregate leave little doubt as to what they are attempting to accomplish.

Although Iran insists that its uranium enrichment efforts are to provide fuel for the Tehran research reactor and eventually for an electric power generation capability, the program is much too large, dispersed and protected in hardened facilities for a "peaceful" program. The electric power generation argument fails in light of the simple fact that Iran wastes more energy from the gas flares on its oil wells than all the electricty its combined nuclear facilities could ever produce.

The latest, and probably most damning information to Iran's pretense of a peaceful nuclear program came this last week. Surprisingly, it came from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), an agency notoriously ineffective on the Iranian nuclear issue and usually reluctant to find anyone in violation of international nuclear agreements. The IAEA announced that it had acquired information that Iranian scientists may have tested an advanced (even by Western standards) nuclear warhead design based on what is called "two-point implosion."

This technology, closely guarded by the United States and the United Kingdom, is cutting-edge and allows the production of warheads small enough to fit on existing Iranian missiles. The Iranians admit researching this technology. There is no peaceful use for this technology - it is only used to produce thermonuclear weapons.

I suspect that the Iranians have made this rather substantial leap forward by buying the technology, most likely from Pakistani nuclear engineer 'Abd al-Qadir Khan. Khan confessed in 2004 to selling nuclear weapons technology secrets from Pakistan's successful program to Libya, North Korea and Iran. There are also reports of Russian weapons experts involved in Iran as well. Given the status of Russia's economy, this is not out of the question.

On November 7, Iranian senior lawmakers rejected the "deal to disarm Iran" supposedly agreed to on October 1, touted by the American Administration as the breakthrough and vindication that its engagement policy towards Iran has been successful. Under the "deal," Iran was to export its low-enriched uranium to Russia and France, where it would be made into fuel rods for the Tehran reactor. Iran initially agreed, then pressed for a modification whereby it could just buy fuel rods and keep its low-enriched uranium, or slow down the export of the material. Now it has rejected exporting any of its enriched uranium. Delay, delay, delay - all the while continuing to enrich uranium. Call me skeptical, but could "the deal" possibly be in jeopardy? It's not going to happen.

Since the deal was announced on October 1, Iran has continued to enrich uranium at at least one facility, producing as much as 10 pounds of low-enriched uranium every day. Every day that the Iranians are successful in delaying effective sanctions, they are that much closer to producing the amount of material required to develop a weapon.

Is anyone still buying the claim that this is a peaceful program to generate electricity? I mean other than the myopic U.S. intelligence community that has yet to repudiate it ludicrous 2007 assessment that Iran has halted its attempts to develop nuclear weapons....

Wake up! They're building the bomb!