The IAEA report on the Iranian nuclear program is quite damning and points out the 20 years of Iran's deception and its total unwillingness to answer for conduct. It discloses that Iran has been working on advanced P-2 centrifuges – as Ahmadinejad bragged about last week – revealing a previously unknown secret track toward nuclear bomb fuel, outside of that which the IAEA had been following previously. P-2 centrifuges are more sophisticated and reliable, making it easier for Iran to ramp up the production of enriched uranium.
Their other work – on plutonium, recent successful work on the 164-centrifuge cascade and announcement last week of the production of enriched uranium – and their stated ambition to install 3,000 centrifuges over the next several months is extremely worrisome. You read it here first.
With just 1,500 centrifuges running in concert, Iran could produce enough fuel for a nuclear bomb in less than a year. Iranian officials have stated they will build a full-scale 3,000-centrifuge operation later this year, with the ultimate objective of deploying 54,000 centrifuges by the end of 2007.
According to the report, "gaps remain in the Agency's [IAEA] knowledge with respect to the scope and content of Iran's centrifuge programme. Because of this, and other gaps in the Agency's knowledge, including the role of the military in Iran's nuclear programme, the Agency is unable to make progress in its efforts to provide assurance about the absence of undeclared nuclear material and activities in Iran."
With Tehran continuing to defy the international community, the Security Council is expected to consider the use of strong economic and political sanctions as tools to dissuade Iran from developing nuclear weapons under Chapter VII. Thankfully, most analysts expect a Chapter VII, (i.e., legally binding resolution) to be passed in the coming weeks with or without Russian support. However, our concern remains that valuable time continues to be lost as Iran's scientists race towards technological self-sufficiency, while the international community continues to debate its reaction. The Chapter VII resolution will only provide the legal context for future sanctions, which are not expected until later this year.
For the record, the long list of nuclear activities Iran kept hidden from the IAEA includes:
- Clandestine construction of a pilot uranium enrichment facility;
- Construction of a large-scale enrichment facility;
- Construction of a facility to convert uranium yellowcake into uranium hexafluoride gas (UF6) - which then can be enriched to create nuclear bombs;
- Construction of a heavy-water reactor that can be used to produce plutonium for nuclear weapons without having to master the uranium enrichment process;
- Importation of the design and components for centrifuges used to enrich uranium;
- Importation of 1.8 tons of uranium yellowcake;
- Experimentation with the separation of plutonium;
- Experimentation with polonium (a radioactive isotope used to trigger and boost nuclear explosions);
- Importation of instructions on how to weaponize highly enriched uranium.
Iran's cooperation is an oxymoron, as the IAEA attests in the latest report: "After more than three years of Agency efforts to seek clarity about all aspects of Iran's nuclear programme, the existing gaps in knowledge continue to be a matter of concern... The Agency cannot make a judgment about, or reach a conclusion on, future compliance or intentions."
Ahmadinejad's continued threats against the West, U.S., and Israel, denial of the Holocaust, and open defiance of the Security Council, leave no doubt this is a dictator with a deadly agenda. His messianic vision of extremist Shiite armageddon should not be taken lightly.
Our sources tell us that European leaders are expressing growing alarm in private conversations about the implications of a genocidal dictator armed with nuclear weapons and the means to deliver them. Vital Perspective remains committed to providing the latest facts and insight on what we believe is the gravest threat of our time.