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Monday, March 07, 2011

While the World is preoccupied with revolutions, Iran pursues nuclear weapons

The revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya and other countries that have preoccupied the 'international community' have been a dream come true for Iran. If the world often doesn't pay sufficient attention to Iran, right now it is downright being ignored.
The Danish paper Politiken is reporting, based on Norwegian intelligence, that the Islamic Republic of Iran has on several occasions tried to purchase materials in Norway that could be used in the production of weapons of mass destruction. Sometimes these reports turn out to be true; sometimes they turn out to be false. The Norwegians, however, have not historically been prone to exaggeration on these issues. The Danish report links to the Norwegian security-service report.

The Obama administration has little interest in revelations of Iranian cheating; they could undermine its push for diplomacy. Sometimes, though, reality gets in the way of policy. It’s ironic that, after years of bashing Bush for doing so, it is Obama who now turns a deaf ear to the Europeans.
But it's not just the Europeans. Last week, Iran entered into an agreement to purchase yellowcake (raw) uranium from Zimbabwe in exchange for supplying its fuel needs (Hat Tip: Powerline via Memeorandum).
A leaked intelligence report suggests Iran will be awarded with exclusive access to Zimbabwe's uranium in return for providing the country with fuel.

The report – compiled by the United Nations' nuclear watchdog – said Iran's Foreign and Co-operative Ministers had visited Zimbabwe to strike a deal, and sent engineers to assess uranium deposits.

Experts say the move contradicts Iran's claim that it now has enough domestic uranium supplies to sustain its nuclear energy ambitions. They say Zimbabwe's defiance of sanctions and its support for the pariah state will scare those considering investing in its economy, which is only just starting to recover after years of hyperinflation.
We're still waiting for the outcry from the West on that one.

Meanwhile, the quarterly IAEA report released on February 25 includes the following.
• Contrary to Security Council resolutions, Iran has not suspended its uranium enrichment activities at several facilities, which are under IAEA safeguards. Indeed, enrichment activities have been expanded at both a pilot plant and the main plant at Natanz, and at an enrichment plant called Fordow, near the holy city of Qom.

Tehran admitted the existence of the latter facility in 2009, days before it was revealed by US and European surveillance. Indeed, Iran is enriching with more than 5,000 centrifuges, 1,000 more than three months ago. (A rare optimistic note is that Iran’s total of 8,000 centrifuges is slightly less than the total at the time of the last report, suggesting breakdowns remain a problem.)

• Iran has now produced more than 3,600 kilograms of low-enriched uranium; if processed into higher proportions of the fissile isotope U-235, this could theoretically be enough for several atomic bombs. In addition, Iran continues to enrich some of this to a higher (20 percent) proportion of U-235, a cause for concern because anything beyond is defined as highly enriched uranium (HEU).

Iran is also working on two new centrifuge designs that might be more efficient than its problematic IR-1 centrifuge.

• Iran is not responding to information requests about the Fordow plant and has yet to tell the IAEA anything about 10 new centrifuge plants. Sites for five of these plants have already been chosen, and construction will begin on one of them before the Iranian new year (March 20) or shortly afterward.

• Iran has provided no further information regarding its claim last year that it possessed laser enrichment technology, nor on its later announcement that it was developing a new type of centrifuge. The regime has also ignored IAEA requests about additional locations related to the manufacture of centrifuges and research and development on enrichment.

• Although Iran has stated that it is not working on reprocessing – which the IAEA confirmed, but only in the facilities it was permitted to inspect –the regime continues to work on heavy-water projects in violation of Security Council resolutions.

• Some activities at the Isfahan uranium conversion and fuel manufacturing facilities contravene Iran’s international obligations.

• Under a section titled “Possible Military Dimensions,” the IAEA report refers to “new information recently received” as well as concerns “about the possible existence in Iran... of activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile.”
But Barack Obama wants to continue to 'engage' with Iran. What could go wrong?

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