Strange, but so far the IAEA’s updated report on Iran, packed with more troubling revelations, has elicited no editorials or opinion pieces – not that we’ve seen, anyway (caution: ABC and AP used Iranian propaganda as their catchy headline). There are at least some good summaries for the layman attempting to understand Iran’s nuclear progress.
1) Number of installed centrifuges at Natanz Fuel Enrichment Plant (FEP) increases substantially;
2) IR-1 centrifuge installation is occurring at a faster than expected rate at Natanz FEP;
3) New IR-2m advanced centrifuges are being installed at Natanz, although when they will start enriching or how well they will operate remains unknown;
4) Number of cascades producing near 20 percent low enriched uranium (LEU) is constant;
5) Iran has less than enough 20 percent low enriched uranium hexafluoride for one nuclear weapon, if further enriched to weapon-grade;
6) Almost all of the cascades at Fordow are now vacuum tested and likely ready for enrichment;
7) Iran resumes converting near 20 percent LEU hexafluoride to oxide form;
8) Iran will use the Tehran Research Reactor (TRR) to test IR-40 Arak reactor fuel; continued construction of the IR-40 reactor is in violation of UNSC resolutions; and,
9) No progress on “structured approach” to resolve outstanding questions about military dimensions and no access to Parchin, which Iran continues to sanitize.
This is a good opportunity to mention that a few days earlier, Jeffrey Goldberg decided to include a document – one whose claims he says he does not necessarily agree with – in his popular blog at the Atlantic .
Goldberg opens with the US Stance:
“President Obama believes that if Iran crosses the nuclear threshold, the Saudis, the Turks, and perhaps others, would almost immediately try to do the same.”
But then he goes on to quote former Pentagon official Colin Kahl’s skeptical report:
“Saudi Arabia is more likely to respond to Iranian nuclearization by continuing to bolster its conventional defenses against Iranian aggression while engaging in a long-term hedging strategy designed to improve civilian nuclear capabilities.”
“Significant disincentives – including the prospect of worsening Saudi Arabia’s security environment, rupturing strategic ties with the United States, damaging the country’s international reputation and making the Kingdom the target of sanctions – would discourage a mad rush by Riyadh to develop nuclear weapons.”
We – at Iran Media Focus – have written at length on the inevitable nuclear arms race. Back in December I noted that:
“We can point to a host of reports, many originate straight from the horse’ (king’s) mouth, which stand in direct contradiction to the claims of Hobbs and Moran.
UPI reported in July that the Saudis had increased their military and potential nuclear cooperation with fellow Sunni state, Pakistan, and were even mulling the purchase of nukes.
The Guardian’s own Ian Black and Simon Tisdall themselves quoted at length from leaked US embassy cables, highlighting that:
Dennis Ross, went even further, recapping on conversations he had with the Saudi King”
A brief look at the IAEA website demonstrates that the nuclear option for Saudi Arabia is just that… a real option.
The Director General visited Saudi Arabia from 26 to 28 January 2013. During his visit, the Director General was briefed by the Saudi authorities on their plans to introduce nuclear power into their national energy mix, and the considerable work they have done so far in preparation for this.
Let’s not forget the UAE:
IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano visited the UAE from 28-29 January 2013. The visit served as an important opportunity for the Director General to see first-hand the progress made in the construction of the UAE’s first Nuclear Power Plant at Barakah.
Just two weeks ago – on the same website – we read about Jordan’s progress in their embryonic nuclear program. Also in the “greater Middle East”: A few months earlier, on November the 14th we read that Turkey and the IAEA have agreed on a close cooperation in the development of the national infrastructure for the country’s new nuclear power programme.
Of course, in the meantime these programs are all peaceful in nature. But they say that in life timing is everything. While their Persian Shia “enemy” makes strides with its dubious nuclear program – as confirmed once again by the latest IAEA report – these Sunni states begin their own nuclear renaissance.
Is this pure coincidence? In the Middle East, there is no place for naïve policy of ‘hopeful wait and see’. So Mr. Goldberg: you know this intuitively, no reason to doubt your instincts – especially when they’re backed by facts on the ground.