Iran Said to Have Nuclear Fuel for One Weapon, says the New York Times:
The figures detailing Iranâ€™s progress were contained in a routine update on Wednesday from the International Atomic Energy Agency, which has been conducting inspections of the countryâ€™s main nuclear plant at Natanz. The report concluded that as of early this month, Iran had made 630 kilograms, or about 1,390 pounds, of low-enriched uranium.
Several experts said that was enough for a bomb, but they cautioned that the milestone was mostly symbolic, because Iran would have to take additional steps. Not only would it have to breach its international agreements and kick out the inspectors, but it would also have to further purify the fuel and put it into a warhead design â€” a technical advance that Western experts are unsure Iran has yet achieved.
â€œThey clearly have enough material for a bomb,â€ said Richard L. Garwin, a top nuclear physicist who helped invent the hydrogen bomb and has advised Washington for decades. â€œThey know how to do the enrichment. Whether they know how to design a bomb, well, thatâ€™s another matter.â€
Nuclear weapons are 1940s technology. Hell, for a simple gun system, I know how to design a bomb, at least to a first approximation. And do we really think that they couldn’t have a secret engineering shop working on this while they tell the Keystone Kops IAEA that, no, really, these are all the nuclear sites we have, honest? Formally breaching their agreements and expelling the inspectors hardly seems like a speedbump for a regime that’s okay with, oh, invading an embassy, just for starters.
Let’s remember, too, that while I’m sure Iran would love to have their own home-built nuclear-tipped IRBM to destroy Tel Aviv threaten and deter their enemies, a big clunky ISO container bomb would do the job quite nicely.
The question, of course, is what do we do about it? Apparently, the chances of an Israeli strike have gone up, and the United States might not get in the way:
The timing of the talks, between two lame duck leaders with only weeks to go before they leave office, is intriguing. Israel has stated repeatedly that it would be unacceptable for an Iranian regime to acquire nuclear weapons. Although Tehran insists that its uranium enrichment programme is for peaceful purposes, President Ahmadinejad has vowed to wipe Israel off the face of the earth.
Intelligence sources have told The Times that the prospect of Israel taking preemptive military action to knock out Iranâ€™s nuclear facilities appears to have become significantly more likely in recent weeks. Such an operation would require at least tacit US cooperation because it would almost certainly involve Israeli warplanes flying through US-controlled airspace in Iraq.
Jerusalem Post: Israel won’t let Iran go nuclear
Israel will not tolerate a nuclear Iran, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad, the head of the Defense Ministry’s Diplomatic-Security Bureau, has stressed to The Jerusalem Post in an unusually hard-hitting interview.
For now, Israel is backing diplomatic and economic efforts to thwart the Iranians, Gilad added, but it doubts these will work and it is keeping all options open.
Asked about the complexities of any resort to military action, particularly since Iran has built its facilities to withstand a repeat of the IAF’s 1981 destruction of Saddam Hussein’s
nuclear reactor at Osirak,
Gilad replied, tellingly, that domestic critics 27 years ago said the Osirak raid “couldn’t be done. And the fact is, it succeeded.”
President-Elect Obama has said that “Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon I believe is unacceptable. We have to mount an international effort to prevent that from happening.” Is an Israeli strike with tacit US cooperation and a heavy sigh of relief from all the neighboring countries “international” enough?
I can see Obama and company breathing a heavy sigh of relief themselves if Israel does something to stop Iran before the Inaugural. That way, he can cite a fait accompli and avoid having to see if his “forceful diplomacy” passes the world laugh test.