Wednesday, November 9, 2011

So Iran is developing an atomic bomb. Is it really?

Iran's nuclear power plant at Bushehr. A possible target for an Israeli attack?

 Today all media parrot the International Atomic Energy Agency's report that Iran is working to have the atomic bomb. Evidence quoted in the report is among other things that Iran obtained the know how to construct high precision detonators, known as EDWs, which are used in nuclear devices and aren't good for too many other  purposes. Also the IAEA points to a big steel container that could be used to field test surrogate explosions, known as hydrodynamic tests, to study the effects of the explosion of  a nuclear device if Iran had one. Also Iran conducted studies on how to convert enriched uranium into metal and after that how to cast this metal into parts suitable for a nuclear core. And last but not least, Iran continued with a project, called Project 111, which had to do with the problem of how to fit a nuclear device on a specific missile system, the Shahab-3.
Now, the conclusion one draws from these data depends on how one wants to interpret them. It's not necessary to be a nuclear expert to see that all of it points in a certain direction. But then, also, it's important to note that almost all of the information is from before 2003, the year in which Iran started to cooperate with the IAEA. The EDW-knowledge was obtained from a Russian expert in the 90-ties. The steel container was built before 2003. The same goes for the conversion of enriched metal into parts for a nuclear core. The exception is this Project 111, the program of developing a system to fix  nuclear warheads to a missile system. Also this goes back to before 2003, but there are indications that it was continued to this day (and also the program to construct a nuclear core for a warhead seems to have been kept alive to a  certain extend). 
Of course these facts in themselves aren't proof that Iran is constructing a bomb, nor that it has decided to do so. They certainly point in the direction that Iran wishes to obtain the necessary know how, but that's all the evidence there is. The IAEA has not found any proof  that Iran has enriched uranium to a higher degree than 20% (or has even the ability to do so),  whereas for a bomb a degree of  more than 80% is needed. Nor has the IAEA found any indication that Iran considers to use plutonium for a bomb.( Click here to see the full report for yourself).
The question rises, what the idea was behind this report, that, as can easily be seen, was for the most part  based upon information obtained from Western intelligence sources. Would it justify the attack the Israeli's have been talking about for so long?  The Russian Foreign minister Sergei Lavrov  warned earlier that military action against Iran would be a "very serious mistake fraught with unpredictable consequences. Diplomacy, not missile strikes, was the only way to solve the Iranian nuclear problem, he said after Israeli President Shimon Peres had said that an attack on Iran was becoming more likely.
The U.S itself does not seem too eager to take action. The business in Iraq is not even finished yet and Afghanistan is weighing heavily. Even more severe sanctions then? But also when it comes to that, Russia might be in the way and that is certainly the case with China.China's official Xinhua news agency suggested that Beijing would respond warily to the report. The IAEA still "lacks a smoking gun," Xinhua said in a commentary. "There are no witnesses or physical evidence to prove that Iran is making nuclear weapons," it said. The fact that China is more and more depending on Iranian oil and gas may have something to do with that. China bought 20.3 million tonnes in the first nine months of the year, up by almost a third on the same time last year, according to Chinese data. Overall trade between China and Iran grew to $32.9 billion in value in the first nine months, up by 58 percent. 

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