Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Nuclear Iran

This blogger saw the following headline, 'Uranium For Iran Nuke In 2009,' and quickly checked out the link. The article started: "Iran will have enough enriched uranium to make a single nuclear weapon later this year, the prestigious International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) predicts." This was a bit of a shocker given that most reputable estimates of Iran's progress were that this was still several years off (ignoring a few outliers from folks interested in, let's say, "encouraging" a bombing campaign...).

A closer perusal of the (Sky News) article showed that the "enriched uranium" was actually low-enriched uranium and "being able to enrich uranium is not the same as having a nuclear weapon." Following the article's link to the source document from the IISS you get a slightly different take: "Iran nears the point – probably sometime in 2009 – of producing enough low enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon if it is further enriched, the question of how Iran can be stopped from having the Bomb will become increasingly urgent."

OK, so they have a sufficient quantity of LEU that IF/WHEN enriched to HEU and weapons grade (85% +) and IF/WHEN made into a bomb, then Iran would have a nuclear device. Not quite as compelling as "Iran will have a nuke this year", which is what the casual reader would take away after reading this "reporting." This blogger is not sure if this is just a piss-poor article by a "journalist" with zero knowledge on the subject, or if a deliberate attempt to inflate the actuality and "prime the pump" for an attack on Iran...

Weird note: There is a 50-picture gallery titled "Nuclear Iran" that accompanies the article. Looking through the gallery, the pictures don't have much to do with nukes, let alone Iranian nukes. Of the 50 pictures, 10 are of a PMOI/MEK rally - the Mujahedin e-Khalq organization (just delisted by the EU as a terrorist organization over the protestations of the French & still listed as such by the United States). 13 are of Israeli PM Olmert meeting with Gordon Brown, and a further 8 are of Israeli military assets (i.e. strangely enough 42% of the pictures are of the real nuclear power in the Middle East.)

This link at the CATO Institute extracts (from a book by Anthony Cordesman and Khalid al-Rodhan) some historical intelligence estimates re how soon Iran will "have the bomb" going back a decade and a half e.g. from 1992: "A February 1992 report by the U.S. House of Representatives suggests that these two or three nuclear weapons will be operational between February and April 1992.

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