Sunday, February 22, 2009

The War Mongers

Israel's ambassador to the U.S. called for "immediate and serious action" Friday after a United Nations report showed Iran has enough uranium to build a nuclear bomb.
"It's an extremely worrisome report. ... It emphasizes that with every day passing, Iran is getting closer to a nuclear military capacity," he said. "The world must take immediate and serious action in order to prevent this nightmare from happening."
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs said Iran represented "urgent problem that has to be addressed...we can't delay addressing it."

Alas , this is the same unfactual rhetoric that we suffered in the build up to the Iraq war . Reports taken out of context and important caveats omitted

It was reported this week, based on a new IAEA report, that Iran has produced “enough low-enriched, reactor-grade uranium to make a bomb.”
This, as former Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist Cheryl Rofer has carefully documented, is scientific nonsense: Yes, that uranium contains enough U-235 to make a bomb. To get it out, you would need to kick all the inspectors out of the country, reconfigure thousands of closely watched centrifuges and engage in years of enrichment.

“As long as we are monitoring their facilities,” IAEA chief Mohammed ElBaradei said recently, “they cannot develop nuclear weapons. And they still do not have the ingredients to make a bomb overnight.”
It is re-iterated here
Iran has not converted the low-grade uranium that it has produced into weapon-grade uranium, inspectors belonging to the International Atomic Energy Agency have said.
The Austrian Press Agency quoted an IAEA expert as saying that the uranium substances that Iran has produced at its Natanz enrichment facility have been carefully recorded and remote cameras have been installed to supervise part of the stockpile.
“If the Iranians intend to transport these uranium substances to a secret location for further processing, agency’s inspectors will find out,” he said. The expert added that “so far, Iran has carried out good cooperation with us in relevant verifications”.
IAEA head Mohamed ElBaradei has said that Iran has slowed down its uranium enrichment programme. He made this observation while submitting a report to the U.N. Security Council on Thursday. Iran has reportedly added only 164 centrifuges (which are used for enrichment) since December last, a comparatively slower rate than in the past.

The war mongers declare that the latest report by Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei "said it had discovered an additional 460 pounds of low-enriched uranium, a third more than Iran had previously disclosed." but actually it said it has now "finalized" its assessment of Iran's physical inventory, carried out back on 24-26 November 2008 and "has concluded that the physical inventory as declared by Iran was consistent" with the IAEA verification.
Far from claiming that Iran had actually produced a third more than it had estimated it had produced, the IAEA has now verified that Iran's estimate was consistent with what they found.
The IAEA then notes that Iran has "estimated" it has produced, since the IAEA did that verification back in November, an additional 171 kg of low enriched UF6.

ElBaradei reports, once again, that Iran is in complete compliance with its NPT-associated Safeguards Agreement, and is – therefore – in complete compliance with its NPT "obligations."

The war mongers claim that Iranian scientists have reached "nuclear weapons breakout capability,"

No, at least from what can be surmised. Iran would face a series of technical hurdles, though none as difficult as producing quality nuclear fuel in industrial quantities.
These include:
* reconfiguring its existing centrifuge enrichment plant at Natanz to reprocess LEU into weapons-grade HEU, or building clandestine facilities without the knowledge of U.N. inspectors
converting HEU into metal and compressing it small enough to fit into the cone of a missile or other delivery vehicle
* designing a nuclear trigger mechanism
* mastering how to create a sustained nuclear chain reaction with an extra source of neutrons
* assembling the actual warhead
All this could take 2-5 years, depending on Iran's technical prowess, but probably much less time than the 20 years it took Iran to acquire enrichment equipment and knowledge from the nuclear black market and make it work.
It would be very hard for Iran to "weaponize" the enrichment process at Natanz without the IAEA noticing and sounding the alarm, since the plant is under regular surveillance by inspectors.If Iran chose to weaponize enrichment at Natanz, it would probably kick out the IAEA and quit the Non-Proliferation Treaty. Iran says it will not refine uranium for anything else but electricity. Being able to enrich at industrial scale is not tantamount to seeking a nuclear weapon and is the sovereign right of NPT members as long as the work remains strictly for peaceful applications.


1 comment:

ajohnstone said...

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates "They're not close to a stockpile. They're not close to a weapon at this point," he told NBC on Sunday.