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Wednesday, November 09, 2011

IAEA confirms Iran seeking nuclear weapons

I was away from the computer even more than I anticipated today. The problem is it also means a lot of my work slipped for another day....

The IAEA confirmed on Tuesday that Iran is pursuing a nuclear weapon. I suppose we should be grateful that Yukio Amano now runs the IAEA - if ElBaradei was still running it, they'd have to confirm that it was a nuclear weapon after it hit Israel, God forbid. But now that everyone knows that Iran is developing a nuclear weapon, will anything be done to stop it?
In the most critical and damning report of Iran’s nuclear program to date, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said Tuesday that the Islamic Republic is working to develop a nuclear-weapon design and is conducting extensive research and tests only relevant for a nuclear weapon.

"The agency has serious concerns regarding possible military dimensions to Iran's nuclear program," the IAEA said in the report, which included a 13-page annex with key technical descriptions of its research. “The information indicates that Iran has carried out activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device."


The report focuses on three main technical areas - the “green salt project”, a name for a covert Iranian program to enrich military-grade uranium; the development and testing of high explosives; and the re-engineering of the payload chamber of ballistic missiles to be able to accommodate a nuclear warhead.

In the report, for example, the IAEA reveals that Iran was working on “exploding bridgewire detonators” which are fast-acting detonators required to create a nuclear explosion.

“Given their possible application in a nuclear explosive device, and the fact that there are limited civilian and conventional military applications for such technology, Iran’s development of such detonators and equipment is a matter of concern,” the report said.

One member state provided the IAEA with information about a “large-scale” test Iran conducted in 2003 to initiate a high explosive charge in the form of a hemispherical shell whose dimensions are consistent with the dimensions of a potential nuclear payload that can be installed on a Shahab-3 ballistic missile.

Work on this project was assisted, according to the IAEA, by a foreign expert, apparently a reference to a Russian scientist who worked with Iran from 1996 to 2002. The scientist has been named in various media reports as Vyacheslav Danilenko.

Additional information in the report reveals that Iran has manufactured simulated nuclear explosive components using high density materials such as tungsten to determine if its theoretical design of an implosion device is correct.
Unfortunately, for now at least, the western response looks like it will be weak.
However, a US official said on Tuesday that Washington may impose more sanctions on Iran, possibly on commercial banks or front companies, but is unlikely to go after its oil and gas sector or its central bank for now,

"I think you will see bilateral sanctions increasing," the official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said after the report's release.

"From our side, we are really looking to close loopholes wherever they may exist," he added, noting that US sanctions are so comprehensive that "there is not a whole lot out there other than the oil and gas market and you know how sensitive that is."

"I don't think we are there yet," he added, referring to the possibility of the United States seeking via US sanctions to make it harder for Iran to export oil and gas, the mainstay of the Islamic Republic's economy.

The official also played down the chances of sanctioning Iran's central bank, which is the clearinghouse for much of its petroleum trade with the rest of the world and which Washington recently suggested was a possibility.

"That is off the table (for now)," said the US official. "That could change, depending on what other players (think). I don't want to rule that out, but it is not really currently on the table."
Of course, the oil and gas industry and the central bank are the only unimposed sanctions that could have a major impact.

What could go wrong?


I meant to add this last night. You can find a copy of the IAEA report here.

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At 1:31 AM, Blogger Sunlight said...

Waiting for the 2007 report authors to say a big "Whooops!" or "we lied." I'd actually like to hear comments on this from GWBush, VPCheney, CRice, etc. It was by far the weirdest thing when that report came out and all movement just froze. It is a strange world now. I can only suggest to Israel and the U.S.: Drill, baby, drill. It will keep us from being under someone's boot heel. Ugh.


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