Jan 10, 2006

Unleashed Genies: Is Iran Making Its Bid To Join The Nuclear Club?


(Teheran) The seals have been broken at the formerly-secret nuclear facility at Natanz, and Iran stands poised to become the world's newest nuclear power.

Or is it?

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors yesterday witnessed the removal of seals at a centrifuge storage facility, and the agency said that it would oversee the reopening of a centrifuge production facility tomorrow.

With this act Iran will have the capability to produce material that can be used for either nuclear power or nuclear weapons. While some administration officials worry publicly that Iran will be capable of producing nuclear weapons in as little as ten months, even the most optimistic scenarios indicate that the Iranians will achieve nuclear capabilities within five years.

Then what?

The nations that have acknowledged possession of nuclear devices are Britain, China, France, India, Pakistan, Russia, and the United States. Israel is widely assumed to possess nuclear weapons, though it has yet to formally acknowledge this capability.

North Korea claims to have possess nukes, but most experts believe they have not mastered some of the necessry processes. The Ukraine may possess some nukes that are not in a deployed state; there is some controversy that poor accounting after the dissolution of the Soviet Union may have left several hundred warheads in this former Soviet republic.

Left: Satellite view of Natanz nuclear facility, courtesy of iranwatch.org.

Will one more nation with nuclear weapons destabilize geopolitics? What about a nation with close proximity to the world's most prized commodity - oil? Certainly President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's calls for wiping Israel "off the map" take on a more ominous import if those words are backed with a 10-megaton weapon.

Iran seems to be determined to develop a weapon irrespective of potential short-term costs, such as a Western embargo of its oil. Israel, meanwhile, has insisted that it will attack any site it believes possesses a nuclear weapon, much as it did against Iraq in 1981.

The stakes have never been higher in the Middle East, and I suspect that the military actions in Afghanistan and Iraq will be mere dustups in comparison with future wars in the region.


Anonymous said...

Another nuclear nation? Scares the hell out of me!!

historymike said...

Me, too, Anonymous.

Too many as it is...

Stephanie said...

I've asked this many a times before, and I suspect I shall continue to ask and ask and ask and be ignored. However, here it goes...

Why assume they are building weapons? They say they want energy. Their people are often short on energy. They have many incentives to make and use this nuclear energy and have even been talking upon occasion about profiting from the sale of excess energy.

Why, oh why, do so many assume their purposes are malign?

Lisa Renee said...

Only one way to stop it and we'll never do that. Complete disarming of all nuclear weapons starting with the middle east.

Lord knows we have enough we can make a show of getting rid of a whole bunch of them and still have enough to blow up the world a few times over.

To not expect Iran to try to get the one thing that will guarantee no one will mess with them and that Israel has is not realistic. Also, if there is to be a discussion as to stopping Iran? We should butt out and force the middle east to deal with this first. If Iran and Israel go head to head with nukes it would def affect them before us.

Lisa Renee said...

Because of the type of nuclear material they are using Stephanie, and because if I were Iran? I'd want nuclear weapons though I sure wouldn't let the US or Israel know I had them until I actually had them.

We've created a situation where these countries realize the only way they have security if they are not an allie is to have nukes.

But you are very correct that we are all speculating....

Lisa Renee said...

The heavy water reactor that Iran is planning creates a very high grade plutonium. If Iran were using light water it would be less of a threat.

Or so is the scientific theory which is why many believe the goal is weapons though there are other reasons to use heavy vs light water reactors.

Canada uses heavy water reactors...

Wiki if you want more info on heavy water.

Stephanie said...

Oh, if I were Iran I'd want nukes too, that's not the point. (And I gaurantee you Isreal's threats would just egg me on.) The point is that we are making far too many assumptions about a problem we're not even sure we have yet.

To simplify:
1) Iran is our enemy and has a history of being our enemy and the enemy of our allies.
2) Iran wants nuclear power.
3) Iran is obviously going after nukes as a threat against us and/or our allies.

Now, if we'd had a recent history of sound judgement as an intelligence gathering nation I might trust these assumptions, but that's not the case. The whole mess seems petty at base to me at this point.

It's stead of playing the big bully, we should try to find a good, solid, peaceful solution that just may involve Iran having nukes.

I don't like nuclear proliferation. I think nukes were a bad idea in the first place.

However, one must ask whether we have either the authority or the integrity to interfer? I don't think we do, nor do I believe Isreal, which has much more reason to be interested, has that authority or integrity either.

Stephanie said...

As for the heavy water thing...

Why build one facillity that can only do one thing when your enemies are going to assume you have something you don't anyway, you might as well be prepared to make it.

The more people say they have or will have nukes, the more pressure they're going to feel to develop said nukes.

Lisa Renee said...

I can't disagree with you on that one Stephanie. I don't think it's our place or Israel's. Especially since Israel has refused to sign the NPT as well as openly admit what they even have.

Israel supposedly needs nuclear weapons for it's own self-defense, yet our own government can't accept that Iran feels threatened by both us and Israel. Granted Iran is not exactly who'd I want to have nukes but then again India and Pakistan are not exactly icons of virtue and they have them.

Stephanie said...

Exactly! I don't see how playing favorites like this is going to bring "peace" to the Middle East. Unless the plan is to load everyone with enough ammunition they're all too scared to breathe wrong. I guess the best we can hope for is a stare-down of the likes of the Cold War, but that wasn't exactly a cake walk for anybody.

george bush said...


That's all I gotta say.

historymike said...

My guess is that Iran will try to play this for all it's worth, not unlike North Korea. If they can make noise, but not actually build a weapon, they can get financial concessions from the West.

That, of course, is assuming that the mullahs who really call the shots are not looking to create an Islamic Republic that includes, say, the rest of the Middle East. If that is the case, all bets are off, and brace yourself for WWIII.

Stephanie said...

I've been "bracing" for WW3 for most of my life, having grown up in the '80s. First it was the Cold War. Then it was the Terrorists. Next it'll be Iran.

Essentially, I'm skeptical. It may happen...but, it would take immense stupidity for anyone to actually follow through with a nuclear attack now. I mean, sure, you get to destroy your enemies, but everyone else gets destroyed too. Not a fun plan.

M A F said...

Mike, while I would prefer that no nation was interested in possessing a nuclear weapons arsenal it ain't happening.

I am reminded of the outcry of how the world would end when both Pakistan and India acquired Nuclear weapons. The world still turns despite the continued dispute over Kashmir.

And now Iran is working to join the nuclear club. And the great cry is that Iran will attack Israel sound like what was said about India and Pakistan.

With all the talk about international law, Iran is not in violation of any international law that I have been made aware of. It is ironic that Bush wants Iran to adhere to international laws that he ignores at his convenience.

Now then, as it pertains to the comments made by Ahmadinejad for wiping Israel "off the map" it should be noted that they came two days after Israel Prime Minister Ariel Sharon announced that Israel plans to attack Iran as soon as March 2006. (Dick Cheney in speeches has also condoned the plan of Israel attacking Iran "pre-emptively.")

There was little media concern for the words of Sharon as contrasted by the words of Ahmadinejad. This despite the fact that Israel has a history of attacking its neighbors (which was one of the later justifcations used to invade Iraq) as contrasted to Iran. Iraq was supposedy the biggest threat in 2003, and we all know how that turned out.

I can only imagine the nightmare that the world will face if the current administration decides on invading or aiding in the attack of Iran by Israel.

historymike said...

I agree about the Iranians being somewhat cornered right now, Mac. There are US troops to the west and east, and Israel just itching to launch a few missiles at that complex in Natanz.

As far as India versus Pakistan, I think people have been snoozing because: a) they have no vital resources like oil; and b)they each possess only short-and medium-range missiles, and they are pointed at...India and Pakistan.

Stephanie said...


"...b)they each possess only short-and medium-range missiles, and they are pointed at...India and Pakistan."

Yeah, but if they're nukes and they're fired the damage will effect everyone, not just India and Pakistan.

Itchy trigger-fingers and nukes make for very bad play.

However, even as the International Bully, we really don't have the authority to do anything about it, and lack the integrity when we turn our backs on whatever nuclear arsenal Isreal may have. In fact, imo, it's probably "safer" if BOTH of them have nukes, as they'll both know they'll be destroyed if either of them use them.

Hey! It worked during the Cold War!

Dariush said...


Kudos to Stephanie, Lisa and Mac for some sober and intelligent comments.

I half expected to see some "nuke dem sumbitches" comments. Good to be proven wrong in this case.

I still have many relatives in Tehran and Esfahan and have no desire to see them vaporized just because a chorus of oy vey's are being hurled in their direction by the biggest bunch of self-serving, chauvinistic hypocrites on the face of the earth. (and their amen corner here in the states)

Kudos to Putin for reminding Westerners what a man who actually puts the welfare of his own people first looks like.

Stephanie said...


"I half expected to see some "nuke dem sumbitches" comments."

No, I guess we left that to you.

While I do find the way we (the US) treats Isreal like a good junkyard dog (Afterall, who cares if they maim a few stray neighbors as long as they keep the junkyard "stabalized?") odious and inexcusable, turning that around to hating Isreal is equally wrong.

Each side in this dispute needs to recognize it's own faults and learn to live and let live. Isreal has equal responsibility (which the US tends not to recognize) to do this as the Islamic side does (which they tend not to recognize).

The only way to end the bloodbath is to end the bloodletting. Both sides just need to stop and go to their seperate corners.

Hooda Thunkit said...


I'm surprised that no has addressed a couple of other points to ponder:

The youth of Iran Like the West, particularly the U.S.

The mullas know this and wish to maintain their prominence, control, and influence, which they fear is waning.

It has been suggested that Iran is ripe for overthrow, from within, if they were to receive the right signals from, say the U.S.

I feel that this is what may be behind their current actions.

Dariush said...

You're dead wrong, Hooda.

Becoming a nuclear power is a matter of national pride for all Iranians, cutting across the lines of economy, sex, age and political affiliation.

It's also a simple matter of reality. Oil is a very finite source of energy. Many analysts believe that Peak Oil has already been reached. Iran needs to look at new ways of providing fuel and energy for its population -- by itself, free from the shackles of parasitic foreign energy "providers".

And while it's true that a great many of Iran's young are enamoured of American porno-trash pop "culture", none of them are rooting for U.ncle S.hlomo to drop freedom bombs on the heads of themselves or their relatives and loved ones.

Before you start getting giddy over another round of cruise missile "liberation" I suggest you read this excellent article by Gary Brecher.

Hooda Thunkit said...


"Before you start getting giddy over another round of cruise missile "liberation"..."

I don't recall saying anything about cruise missiles...

As for your contention that I am dead wrong, time will tell.

Until then, we will just have to disagree.