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Iran: The Genie Has Left The Building

For Iran and its nuclear weapons ambitions, the genie has left the building. And she took her bottle with her. The New York Times reports today that Iran has enough nuclear material for at least one bomb. There are some important caveats to consider before going batty over this report, but first, the pertinent graphs of the report.

Iran has now produced roughly enough nuclear material to make, with added purification, a single atom bomb, according to nuclear experts analyzing the latest report from global atomic inspectors.

The figures detailing Iran’s progress were contained in a routine update on Wednesday from the International Atomic Energy Agency, which has been conducting inspections of the country’s main nuclear plant at Natanz. The report concluded that as of early this month, Iran had made 630 kilograms, or about 1,390 pounds, of low-enriched uranium.

Several experts said that was enough for a bomb, but they cautioned that the milestone was mostly symbolic, because Iran would have to take additional steps. Not only would it have to breach its international agreements and kick out the inspectors, but it would also have to further purify the fuel and put it into a warhead design — a technical advance that Western experts are unsure Iran has yet achieved.
A few points. Not quite cold water, but perhaps cooler water.
  1. 1. Was there ever any doubt that Iran had enough material to produce at least one nuclear weapon? The question has not been to materials, but the process. Keep that in mind.
  2. 2. Enriching uranium to military grade levels is one hurdle the Iranians can achieve with enough time to do so in their (known) limited capacity uranium enrichment cascades.
  3. 3. Constructing a technically functional spherical mass for a warhead is another process altogether, and one in which they almost certainly have no trial-and-error experience yet.
Now, for the gasoline on the fire.
  1. 1. Every report is about Iranian advancement, never about any curtailing or concessions.
  2. 2. Too many presume Iran is seeking uranium-based nuclear weapons. Why then the heavy water plant at Arak? It has a singular purpose of producing plutonium (for smaller weapons, larger blast.) Why also then the Iranian partnership with Syrians and North Koreans on constructing the now-destroyed plutonium facility in the Syrian desert? Why then the IRGC generals invited to observe the NoKor plutonium weapon test in October 2006? Forget the enrichment cascades at Natanz. Watch the Arak facility.
  3. 3. All it takes is one nuclear weapon to achieve the psychological advantages that equate tangible defense gains, and thus even bolder offensive actions via Hizballah and Hamas surrogate terrorists.
I said after last year's release of the Iran NIE that the genie is out of the bottle. This report, while really not news, should signal to many that the genie is not simply out of the bottle. She has left the building and taken her bottle with her.

Seriously. Who is going to stop the Iranians? With the exception of Israel, whose conventional reach and thus capabilities are limited, the rest of the world remains transfixed on arriving at a global consensus that will never happen. Not on Iran. Not on any issue.

And that's why I say the genie has left and taken her bottle with her.

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