31 Mar 2010

“Tune in, Iran”

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An unnamed (presumably liberal) official working in non-proliferation comments with indignation about Iran’s refusal to stop building nukes despite futile efforts by the current administration to bribe and cajole them into cooperating. The new CIA Weapons Intelligence, Nonproliferation and Arms Control Center 721 report makes it clear that they are ignoring the Obama Administration, the UN, and bien pensant liberals everywhere and going right ahead with developing all the WMD and delivery systems they can. Members of the comfortable and contented Western haute bourgeois establishment consistently indulge in the fallacy of supposing that foreign adversaries of the United States are at heart reasonable, well-meaning people like themselves who underneath it all really just want to get along with everyone. Of course, despotic totalitarian regimes don’t want to get along, they want to win.

Bill Gertz reports:

Iran is poised to begin producing nuclear weapons after its uranium program expansion in 2009, even though it has had problems with thousands of its centrifuges, according to a newly released CIA report.

“Iran continues to develop a range of capabilities that could be applied to producing nuclear weapons, if a decision is made to do so,” the annual report to Congress states.

A U.S. official involved in countering weapons proliferation said the Iranians are “keeping the door open to the possibility of building a nuclear weapon.”

“That’s in spite of strong international pressure not to do so, and some difficulties they themselves seem to be having with their nuclear program,” the official said. “There are powerful incentives for them to close the door completely, but they are either purposefully ignoring them or are tone deaf. You almost want to shout, ‘Tune in Tehran.'” …

During the first 11 months of last year, the main uranium-enrichment facility at Natanz produced about 1.8 tons of low-enriched uranium hexafluoride, compared with about half a ton the previous year.

The number of centrifuges at Natanz increased from about 5,000 to 8,700 last year, although the number reported to be working is about 3,900, indicating the Iranians are having problems with the machines. The centrifuges enrich uranium gas by spinning it at high speeds.

Last year, Iran disclosed it is building a second gas-centrifuge plant near the city of Qom that will house an estimated 3,000 machines. U.S. officials have said the Qom facility, which was discovered in 2007, is a clear sign Iran’s nuclear program is geared toward producing weapons, because the facility is too small for nonmilitary uranium enrichment.

Iran also continued work last year on a heavy water research reactor.

On missiles, the report said Iran is building more short- and medium-range ballistic missiles and stated that “producing more capable medium-range ballistic missiles remains one of its highest priorities.”

Three test flights of a new 1,240-mile-range Sejil missile were conducted in 2009, the report said, noting that assistance from China, North Korea and Russia “helped move Iran toward self-sufficiency in the production of ballistic missiles.”

The report also said that Iran has the capability of producing both chemical and biological weapons, and Tehran continued to seek dual-use technology for its bioweapons program.

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