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Monday, August 03, 2009

Times of London: Iran ready to rock and roll, waiting for Khameni signal

The Times of London reports in Monday's edition (NOT under the byline of Uzi Mahnaimi) that Iran is ready to build a nuclear bomb and that all that is required is an order from Ayatollah Ali Khameni.
The sources said that Iran completed a research programme to create weaponised uranium in the summer of 2003 and that it could feasibly make a bomb within a year of an order from its Supreme Leader.

A US National Intelligence Estimate two years ago concluded that Iran had ended its nuclear arms research programme in 2003 because of the threat from the American invasion of Iraq. But intelligence sources have told The Times that Tehran had halted the research because it had achieved its aim — to find a way of detonating a warhead that could be launched on its long-range Shehab-3 missiles.

They said that, should Ayatollah Khamenei approve the building of a nuclear device, it would take six months to enrich enough uranium and another six months to assemble the warhead. The Iranian Defence Ministry has been running a covert nuclear research department for years, employing hundreds of scientists, researchers and metallurgists in a multibillion-dollar programme to develop nuclear technology alongside the civilian nuclear programme.


An Israeli official said that Iran had poured billions of dollars over three decades into a two-pronged “master plan” to build a nuclear bomb. He said that Iran had enriched 1,010kg of uranium to 3.9 per cent, which would be sufficient for 30kg of highly enriched uranium at 95 per cent. About 30kg is needed to build one bomb.

British intelligence services are familiar with the secret information about Iran’s experiments, sources at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office said. Although British agencies did not have their own “independent evidence” that Iran had successfully tested the explosive component of a nuclear warhead, they said there was no reason to doubt the assessment.
In other words, it would take Iran six months to enrich uranium and six months to assemble the warhead, but they've already enriched enough uranium and for all we know they could be assembling the warhead now. What a consoling thought....
If Iran’s leader does decide to build a bomb, he will have two choices, intelligence sources said. One would be to take the high-risk approach of kicking out the international inspectors and making a sprint to complete Iran’s first bomb, as the country weathered international sanctions or possible air strikes in the ensuing crisis. The other would be to covertly develop the materials needed for an arsenal in secret desert facilities.
That seems like a no-brainer to me.

The article goes on to discuss the use of sanctions against Iran, possibly beginning at the end of next month. At this point, given the assessment of where Iran is, sanctions are too little too late. It would take several months for their effect to start to be felt and then... hope that ordinary Iranians are willing to be shot by the Basij and the Revolutionary Guard to bring down the government? That doesn't sound like much of a strategy.

Allahpundit points out:
Any reason to believe Iran might have those “smaller, secret facilities” needed to build a bomb covertly? Why, yes: According to an NYT story published in January, a classified portion of that 2007 NIE described at great length analysts’ “suspicion that Iran had 10 or 15 other nuclear-related facilities, never opened to international inspectors, where enrichment activity, weapons work or the manufacturing of centrifuges might be taking place.” Combine the fact that that rather significant detail was omitted from the public debate at the time with the report’s increasingly discredited conclusion that Iran gave up its program in 2003 and you’ve got one of the most astounding intelligence failures in U.S. history, with potentially graver consequences than either 9/11 or the WMD intel on Iraq.
Even without that Times article, we'd have to be fools not to believe that Iran has secret facilities.

John Bolton was right. It's crunch time.


At 8:41 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Yep. Its removed all doubt as what Iran intends to do and its infuriating Obumbler is more concerned with a handful of Jewish families moving into a Jerusalem neighborhood than he is with dealing with the Iranian nuclear threat,

Which speaks volumes about the Administration's priorities. Its definitely crunch time now.


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