TIMMERMAN: Holding the line on Iranian nuclear weapons

10292013_b1-timmerman-timebo8201_s640x248By Kenneth R. Timmerman:

Secretary of State John Kerry said on Monday that negotiations with the Islamic Republic of Iran will “test” Tehran’s nuclear intentions, and impose “fully verifiable” steps to ensure that Iran does not develop nuclear weapons. And yet, he has already given in to Iran’s most significant demand: that they be allowed to continue enriching uranium.

This is a fatal negotiating mistake, which could have deadly consequences.

Iran enriches uranium hexafluoride gas in fast-spinning centrifuges. Spin the centrifuges for a certain period, and you get low-enriched uranium, which can fuel a nuclear power plant. Spin them a bit longer, and you get weapons-grade uranium to make a bomb.

As long as they have the centrifuges and the enrichment plants, there is no inherent stopping point in the technology to prevent Iran from spinning up to weapons-grade uranium. It’s a bit like giving a teenager the keys to the Mustang on a Saturday night and asking him not to push it beyond 30 mph. Are you kidding?

Just like the teenager, all the Iranians have to do is step on the gas, and they will turn the corner to becoming a nuclear weapons state in little time. They don’t need to make any changes in their existing technology.

Over the past two years, Iran has made great strides in its enrichment capabilities. According to the latest report from the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, the regime now has 19,000 centrifuges, including several thousand high-performance, new-generation machines they are still testing.

To date, they have produced more than 10,000 kilograms (22,000 pounds) of low-enriched uranium. With further enrichment, by most estimates, that is enough for roughly 10 bombs (or “significant quantities,” as the agency calls the amount of highly enriched uranium needed to make a crude, Hiroshima generation weapon). If Iran used a more efficient bomb design, it would be enough for many more.

One of the most respected nongovernmental experts on Iran’s nuclear programs, former Atomic Energy Agency inspector David Albright, has consistently argued that technological and management bottlenecks have slowed the Iranian bomb program considerably. Just two years ago, he questioned whether Iran’s main enrichment plant at Natanz was for real, or just an expensive “boondoggle.”

Now Mr. Albright thinks the program is for real, and that Iran has the capability of producing enough uranium hexafluoride for a bomb in less than one month.

Read more at Washington Times

 

Iran’s Underground Nuke Site Struck?

imagesCAZ18BYABy Ryan Mauro:

The biggest blow in the covert campaign against Iran’s nuclear program may have just been delivered. It is reported that a mysterious explosion was set off inside the underground enrichment site at Fordo on Monday. The Iranian regime predictably denies the report. Anonymous Israeli officials have confirmed that an explosion took place, but the White House says it doesn’t believe the report is credible.

The original report was written by “Reza Kahlili,” a former CIA spy inside the Iranian Revolutionary Guards who is now in the U.S. and active in the Iranian opposition. His source is Hamid Reza Zakeri, a former Iranian intelligence officer who defected in 2001. Zakeri claims to have worked in Supreme Leader Khamenei’s Intelligence Office and his information helped convince Judge George Daniels to rule in December 2011 that Iran and Hezbollah hold responsibility for the 9/11 attacks.

The Fordo site is about 300 feet under a mountain in order to protect it from aerial attack. It can hold about 3,000 centrifuges, which is far from what is needed for a domestic nuclear program but adequate for nuclear weapons. This is the site drawing the most concern of those that have been publicly disclosed because it is also where Iran is storing the uranium it has enriched to 20 percent. Nuclear expert David Albright says that 20% enriched uranium can be brought to bomb-grade level in as little as six months using 500 to 1,000 centrifuges.

The explosion reportedly took place at about 11:30 in the morning inside the third centrifuge chamber that lies above the stock of enriched uranium. The blast disabled two elevators, leaving no way to rescue the 240 personnel stuck inside. The report says that traffic was blocked off for 15 miles and the Tehran-Qom highway was temporarily closed off. There was no evacuation of nearby residents.

A satellite image of Iran's Fordo nuclear enrichment facility (photo: credit AP/ DigitalGlobe)

A satellite image of Iran’s Fordo nuclear enrichment facility (photo: credit AP/ DigitalGlobe)

The Iranian regime denies that any explosion took place. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said, “We have no information to confirm the allegations in the report and we do not believe the report is credible.” Anonymous Israeli intelligence officials, on the other hand, confirmed that an explosion took place and said that the damage is still being assessed.

It is difficult to determine the impact of the alleged explosion on Iran’s nuclear ambitions because the program’s full extent is unknown. “Kahlili” has identified three other secret nuclear sites and a biological weapons site. His sources report that the regime is making progress in warhead production, uranium enrichment and plutonium reprocessing at these sites. He recently provided a briefing on these activities in a RadicalIslam.org webinar on Iran’s nuclear program.

Read more at Front Page