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Thursday, August 30, 2012

How 'bout those sanctions? IAEA report says Iran has more than doubled underground centrifuges since May, 75% of the way to completing Fordow site

International sanctions are having a huge effect on Iran's nuclear program. Unfortunately, it's not the one for which supporters of sanctions outside the Obama administration were hoping. The IAEA reports that despite the sanctions, since May, Iran has doubled the number of underground centrifuges that are enriching uranium. That's right. More than doubled. In three months.
The UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in its quarterly report on Iran that the number of centrifuges at Fordow, near the holy Shi'ite Muslim city of Qom, about 130 km (80 miles) from the capital Tehran, had more than doubled to 2,140 from 1,064 in May.

The new machines were not yet operating, it said.

Iran's supreme leader repeated this week that Iran's nuclear programme was entirely peaceful. "Our motto is nuclear energy for all and nuclear weapons for none," Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told a developing nations summit in Tehran.

But the expansion in enrichment infrastructure and the increasing in stockpiles of potent nuclear material revealed in the report will do nothing to allay fears or reduce the diplomatic and sanctions pressure on Iran.

The report showed that Iran had produced nearly 190 kg (418 pounds) of higher-grade enriched uranium since 2010, up from 145 kg in May.
And that's not all. The UN also had some comments about Parchin, the nuclear weapons testing facility that Iran is now trying to cover up.
"Significant ground scraping and landscaping have been undertaken over an extensive area at and around the location," it said.

Five buildings had been demolished and power lines, fences and paved roads removed, the report said, "extensive activities" that would hamper its investigation if granted access.

"The activities observed ... further strengthen the agency's assessment that it is necessary to have access to the location at Parchin without further delay", the IAEA said.

Iran says Parchin is a conventional military facility and has dismissed the allegations about it as "ridiculous".
The New York Times adds that the number of centrifuges installed is three quarters of what Iran needs to complete the Fordow site.
The Israelis in favor of military action, led by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, the most outspoken proponent of moving quickly against the Iranian program, will point to evidence that Iran has now installed over 2,100 of the roughly 2,800 centrifuges destined for the underground site, called Fordow. More than 1,000 have been installed in the last three months, since the last report by the agency. For Mr. Barak, that is evidence that the “zone of immunity” he has warned about — the point at which Iran will be able to produce nuclear fuel from a site invulnerable to attack — will be reached in a matter of weeks.

But American officials urging caution will find plenty in the report to bolster their view as well. Only a third of the centrifuges at Fordow are actually operating, the inspectors reported, leaving open the question of whether Iran has run into technical difficulties or has made a political decision not to tempt its adversaries by rushing ahead in moving production of fuel to its best-protected facility. And while the agency’s statistics show that Iran has, since February, doubled its stockpile of fuel enriched to 20 percent purity — a level that bomb experts say could be converted to bomb grade in a matter of months — it still does not possess enough of that fuel to produce a complete nuclear weapon. Most of its stockpile is composed of a lower-enriched fuel that would take considerably longer to make useful in a weapon.
The Obama administration's position is completely untenable. Left to its own devices, Iran will complete the Fordow site by November, and the IAEA will report its completion shortly after the US Presidential elections. How convenient for Hussein Obama!

It doesn't matter whether Iran is actually operating the centrifuges. Once they are installed in a bunker that is impermeable by any weapons Israel has, Iran can start operating them at any time. Israel will have no viable response. It will be totally dependent on US military action to take out Iran's nuclear weapons capability. And President Obama has been unwilling to commit explicitly to take that action.

President Hussein Obama wants Israel to stand down until after the US elections, by which time, it is now obvious, Iran's Fordow underground facility will be completed. As I told everyone with whom I discussed this in the US, Israel doesn't trust Obama and will put its survival ahead of Obama's reelection. Look for an Israeli strike on Iran between the end of the Succoth holiday and the US Presidential elections.

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