Iran’s Nuclear Development

In an op-ed in The Philadelphia Inquirer, anti-nuclear weapons activist Tad Daley writes:

It may well be that Tehran does ultimately aspire to produce not just nuclear electricity, but also a few nuclear weapons to deter the aggression that others keep threatening to launch. But no one claims that it is doing so now. Indeed, the day before Khalilzad and Casey spoke, IAEA head Mohammed ElBaradei told CNN: “Have we seen Iran having the nuclear material that can readily be used into a weapon? No. Have we seen an active weaponization program? No.”

So, contrary to Casey’s declaration, the U.S. government is hardly conceding that “any country” meeting his stated criteria is acting in a manner “perfectly acceptable to us.” The Bush administration, instead, subjectively and unilaterally, is assessing the “record, rhetoric, policies and connections” of both Egypt and Iran, and pronouncing, in our wisdom, that the one may proceed down the nuclear road while the other may not.

No other possible conclusion can be drawn, since Iran, in pursuing, so far at least, merely a nuclear “capability,” is in fact in accord with its obligations under the NPT.

They’re fully within their rights to go that way.

Can anyone read the text of Non-Proliferation Treaty and conclude that Iran doesn’t have a right to pursue the peaceful use of nuclear energy? That’s the plain text of the treat to which both the United States and Iran are signatories. See here

Affirming the principle that the benefits of peaceful applications of nuclear technology, including any technological by-products which may be derived by nuclear-weapon States from the development of nuclear explosive devices, should be available for peaceful purposes to all Parties to the Treaty, whether nuclear-weapon or non-nuclear-weapon States,

and here

Article IV

1. Nothing in this Treaty shall be interpreted as affecting the inalienable right of all the Parties to the Treaty to develop research, production and use of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes without discrimination and in conformity with Articles I and II of this Treaty.

My blog-friend and goad Cernig takes Charles at LGF to task for failing to understand either the op-ed or, presumably, the NPT.

It’s been some time since I’ve written about Iran and its nuclear development program, largely because I’ve said what I have to say on the subject and new developments haven’t warranted expanding on the subject. While the Iranians are, indeed, within their rights under the NPT to pursue nuclear development for peaceful purposes and the Bush Administration is wrong in stepping beyond the terms of the treaty in its criticisms of the Iranians, there’s plenty of reason to doubt the Iranians’ bona fides and to be concerned about the situation.

The IAEA found the Iranians to be in breach of their obligations under the NPT in 2004 (“Iran’s Nuclear Stance Criticized,” BBC News, 8 March 2004), in 2005 (“UN Call for Iranian Co-Operstion,” BBC, 28 February 2005), and 2006 (Mark Heinrich, “Iran’s inspection curb hobbles key IAEA atom probe,” Washington Post, 7 February 2006). The Iranians’ have strenuously resisted adopting measures which would be less useful for adapting their nuclear research to military use e.g. the offer by the Russians to enrich fuel for Iranian nuclear reactors, pursuing a heavy water reactor rather than a light water reactor. Further, Iran’s explanations for why they are pursuing even peaceful use of nuclear technology simply aren’t credible: improving their existing oil and gas facilities would result in greater energy savings than nuclear reactors could produce; Iran doesn’t have enough indigenous uranium to prevent their nuclear energy program from being dependent on outside resources.

That means you’re left with one (or more) of the following conclusions, none of which are particularly comforting:

  1. The Iranian regime is irrational.
  2. The Iranian regime is developing nuclear weapons.
  3. The Iranian regime wants somebody (its own people, us,the Israelis, the Europeans) to believe that they’re developing nuclear weapons.
  4. The Iranian regime wants to be in a position to development nuclear weapons in the near term so is maximizing the availablility of dual-purpose technologies.

I don’t oppose Iran’s having nuclear power. I don’t oppose Iran’s developing nuclear power. I don’t even oppose Iran having nuiclear weapons. I do oppose this Iranian regime’s having nuclear weapons but I’ve been consistent in my prescription: the U. S. should stop sabre-rattling unless it’s prepared to back up the threats (as my friend John Burgess has aptly commented, the only successful military action against Iran would be carpet bombing with nuclear weapons) and start offering some carrots that are appealing to the present regime.

35 comments… add one
  • hass

    Actually, if you read IranAffairs.com, you’ll see that the US encouraged and supported Iran’s nuclear program in the first place, and recently British and American researchers confirm that Iran needs nuclear power, and the IAEA certified that previously undisclosed nuclear activities of Iran had no relation to a weapons program (in fact Iran has hardly the only country to have had such undisclosed activities) In fact, Iran’s enrichment program – far from being secret – was widely reported on Iranian radio, and IAEA inspectors even visited Iran’s uranium mines. Iran resorted to getting some centrifuge technology in secret from Pakistan after the US consistently prevented Iran from acquiring the technology overtly from other countries.

    And Iran doesn’t want to become reliant on nuclear fuel imports from Russia, which is quite rational especially considering that even Dick Cheney accused Russia of engaging in energy blackmail. However, Iran has repeatedly made many offers to put additional limits on its nuclear program beyond what the NPT legally requires (and beyond what other countries do – such as Argentina and Brazil) but these offers have been ignored by the US and EU.

    The logical conclusion is that nuclear proliferation is just a pretext. The US is fishing for a reason to attack Iran.

  • Colorado Jack

    “Iran doesn’t have enough indigenous uranium to prevent their nuclear energy program from being dependent on outside resources.”

    Are you sure? I don’t know much about the subject, but take a look at http://www.globalsecurity.org/wmd/world/iran/mines.htm Also, there’s outside and there’s outside. I believe Kazakhstan has substantial uranium resources, and it’s not very far away.

  • Cernig

    Hi Dave,

    improving their existing oil and gas facilities would result in greater energy savings than nuclear reactors could produce

    But not cash savings. Indeed, being able to sell all that oil and gas instead of burning it for power was exactly the rationale offered by Rumsfield, Cheney et al when they offered the Shah his original reactor. It was a rationale taken up wholeheartedly by the US nuclear power industry.

    Regards, C

  • hass:

    No, the logical conclusion is that our expectations of the present Iranian regime and the prior one are different.

    Colorado Jack:

    That was the finding of our State Department. The citation is in one of my posts on Iran—I don’t have the inclination to go hunting for it now. And the issue is self-sufficiency, not availability. Last time I checked Kazakhstan is not Iran and dependence on Kazakhstan is still dependence. You’re not self-sufficient if you’re importing what you need so self-sufficiency is a red herring.

  • Cernig

    Might I add that the reason Iran gave for turning down “the offer by the Russians to enrich fuel for Iranian nuclear reactors” -eventually, after they had accepted the supply for Bushehr – was that they thought the Russians would hold the supply hostage whenever they wanted leverage. Guess what happened to that supply for Bushehr? You yourself have written, in the past, that one should never expect a nation to act outwith its own national security interests. Why are you doing so on this one?

    Regards, C

  • Cernig, Iran vents more recoverable oil and gas from their existing facilities than they can realize in savings by going nuclear and the cost of the conversion would be lower.

  • Cernig

    Lastly – heavy rather than light water plants point to problems with the enrichment process. Because light water absorbs more neutrons than heavy water, reactors using light water must use more highly enriched uranium rather than natural uranium or low-level enriched fuel, otherwise criticality is impossible. The use of heavy water essentially increases the efficiency of the nuclear reaction. IAEA reports and many independent analysts have said Iran has major problems with its enrichment cascades, which have so far only been run at 20% efficiency.

    Regards, C

    P.S. – sorry for taking up so many comments on this 🙂

  • Cernig

    Dave, I’ve never seen that claim before – got a cite for it so I can give it a look over?

    Regards, C

  • Cernig

    Its worth noting at this stage that independent studies conducted by the National Academy of Science in the US and Foreign Affairs Select Committee of the British Parliament have confirmed that Iran has a valid economic basis for its nuclear energy program, and that harnessing other sources such as natural gas which otherwise would be flared wouldn’t be as economical given Iran’s current stage of development of its oil and gas industry. To develop the oil/gas industry to that level would require in the region of $40 billion – rather less than the nuclear power option.

    Dave, in April 206 the Iranian ambassador used the NYT as a forum to repeat Iran’s negotiating offers, which included:
    Present the new atomic agency protocol on intrusive inspections to the Parliament for ratification, and to continue to put it in place pending ratification;

    Permit the continuous on-site presence of IAEAinspectors at conversion and enrichment facilities;

    Introduce legislation to permanently ban the development, stockpiling and use of nuclear weapons;

    Cooperate on export controls to prevent unauthorized access to nuclear material;

    Refrain from reprocessing or producing plutonium;

    Limit the enrichment of nuclear materials so that they are suitable for energy production but not for weaponry;

    Immediately convert all enriched uranium to fuel rods, thereby precluding the possibility of further enrichment;

    Limit the enrichment program to meet the contingency fuel requirements of Iran’s power reactors and future light-water reactors;

    Begin putting in place the least contentious aspects of the enrichment program, like research and development, in order to assure the world of our intentions;

    Accept foreign partners, both public and private, in our uranium enrichment program.

    Iran has recently suggested the establishment of regional consortiums on fuel-cycle development that would be jointly owned and operated by countries possessing the technology and placed under atomic agency safeguards. What exactly would be the problem with working from there?

    Regards, C

  • It’s in one of my old posts on Iran’s nuclear development program. I’ll see if I can’t dredge it up when I’ve got a spare moment.

    The key point for me here, Cernig, is that I think that you and I agree on the substance of this issue: the U. S. shouldn’t go to war with Iran and folks in the U. S. (including the present administration) should do less hyperventilating about Iran.

    I think you’d have a stronger case if you’d stop implicitly defending the Iranian regime. It’s enough to say “we don’t know for sure”.

  • Cernig

    Dave, email me the link if you get a chance. Thanks.

    Yes, we agree on the key point. I’ve written on my own blog about how unhappy it makes me to be a reluctant apologist for an odious regime. It’s just that it isn’t enough to say “we dont know for sure” when so many in the Bush administration and their bleachers are yelling ‘we know for sure!” and using that false certainty to attempt to catapult a war.

    You have to say ‘no-one knows for sure, the preponderance of available evidence says they don’t have a weapons program, saying the opposite is a lie, put the f***ing guns down!” Anything else is seen by the pro-war lobby as a weakness they can trample over, and they have the biggest bully pulpit.

    I’m not prepared to see thousands die because arguments with sociopaths-in-power should be one-sidedly fair and decorous.

    Regards, C

  • JoeCitizen

    Is it not the case that the Iranian leadership, at the very top, has often and publicly stated not only that they are not pursuing weapons, but that the weapons were contrary to Islamic law?

    I just wonder why they would do that if they are, in fact, developing weapons, given that the credibility of the Supreme leader on matters of Islamic law would be seriously undermined in front of his own people if it turns out they were doing what the Leader had stated, repeatedly, would be illegal under Islamic law.

  • JoeCitizen, you’re confusing Islam with Roman Catholicism. Shi’a Islam is more malleable than your hypothetical allows—they’ll find a way to issue a differing opinion.

  • Sorry to be late to the discussion – out all day, and dsl isn’t working – but Joe Citizen is partly right: there was a news story six months or so back that the religious side of the Iranian leadership issued a fatwa that nuclear weapons were illegal under Islamic law. However, nobody has been able to find that fatwa. So it’s as uncertain as a bunch of other things relating to Iran’s nuclear program.

    The Federation of American Scientists has something about this on their website, and I may have even posted something on it, but please excuse me from trying to find and link to them just now, while I’m on dialup.

  • Cernig writes:

    You have to say ‘no-one knows for sure, the preponderance of available evidence says they don’t have a weapons program, saying the opposite is a lie, put the f***ing guns down!” Anything else is seen by the pro-war lobby as a weakness they can trample over, and they have the biggest bully pulpit.

    I’m not prepared to see thousands die because arguments with sociopaths-in-power should be one-sidedly fair and decorous.

    This is a curious statement. If it is true (and I think it is, but I’m far from an expert) that the preponderance of evidence is that there is not an active nuclear weapons program in Iran, then it is not true that to say they do have one is a lie. It is only to say something for which there is less evidence than for the contrary conclusion. It’s a bad guess. But there is a degree of doubt in either answer. You can’t prevent people from intuitively sensing that by shouting them down.

    Further, the statement implies that anyone who suspects Iran may be developing or coveting nuclear weapons has a gun in his hand. That is an extremely prejudiced conclusion about what might be a reasonable person’s suspicion.

    Cernig seems to think his dialogue is with “the pro-war lobby” and “sociopaths in power.” It isn’t. They don’t give a rat’s ass what he, or you, or I think or write. His dialogue is with people like Dave and me, and his tactics and rhetoric are so offputting they fail to advance his case with people he might otherwise persuade, who are willing to be persuaded by his intelligence and study of the topic.

    All of which seems to me to make violence and bad decisions more, not less, likely. Unless you believe there is no more popular control over the actions of the U.S. government, in which case I would think your opposition should not waste itself in online scribbling or trivial peace marches.

  • Cernig

    Calli,

    If it is true (and I think it is, but I’m far from an expert) that the preponderance of evidence is that there is not an active nuclear weapons program in Iran, then it is not true that to say they do have one is a lie.

    If “the preponderance of evidence is that there is not an active nuclear weapons program in Iran” then –

    “there is an Iranian nuclear program” = F
    “there is no Iranian nuclear program” = F
    “there may be an Iranian nuclear program” = T
    “there is probably an Iranian nuclear program” = F
    “there is probably no Iranian nuclear program” = T

    If a statement is false, known to be false by the speaker, and uttered as truth, then that statement is a lie.

    Regards, C

  • But we don’t pretend to have all the evidence, do we? You and I only know as much as we know of the whole picture. What is it? 40 percent of the truth? Or 80 percent of what is required to make a judgment with 100 percent certainty? If 40 percent, then “there is probably an Iranian nuclear program” is not a lie. Just as, say, “the Japanese are going to attack Pearl Harbor” would be called a “lie” in your formulation based on what the U.S. authorities knew on Dec. 6, 1941 (and I’m not inclined to delve into conspiracy theories here). They knew what they knew. They didn’t know enough.

  • People for whom the whole public sphere is divided into truth-tellers and liars tend not to convince me of much.

  • Wow, exciting thread that I’m a bit late too.

    First of all, the arguments about Iranian nuclear power are really red herrings. The issue is not Iranian nuclear power, the issue is about an Iranian enrichment capability. The arguments that Iran “needs” nuclear power have nothing to do with enrichment. This is a distinction that Cernig continually misses, such as his criticism of Kazakhstan and now with Egypt. Neither nation claims it will develop (or illicitly acquire) a wholly domestic fuel cycle.

    Secondly, there is legitimate disagreement as to what constitutes “peaceful” under article IV of the NPT. The sticking point comes with dual-use technologies such as enrichment. Such technologies can be used for both peaceful and non-peaceful activities, so whether a nation is in compliance with article IV really comes down to intent and any ancillary evidence. And intent is the core of the issue with Iran. Iran has not exactly comported itself well considering its long history of outright deception and evidence of wholly military-related activity. Iran and it’s supporters like Hass argue that virtually everything that is not patently military-related is “peaceful” and therefore legal under the NPT. The IAEA and its governing council would disagree. Even India tried to claim it’s “smiling buddha” nuclear “device” test was “peaceful.” What Hass and others fail to mention when discussing nuclear assistance to Iran under the Shah is that a wholly domestic enrichment/reprocessing capability was never an option. Again, as mentioned above, this is a conflation of a nuclear power capability with a nuclear enrichment capability – the former having no proliferation threat and the latter having a very high proliferation threat.

    Thirdly, the link everyone is looking for is here (pdf file). An abbreviated version was published on the State website here. It discusses many economic aspects of Iran’s program.

    Finally, “preponderance of evidence” arguments are inherently flawed as has been demonstrated time and again (Iraq, for example). First of all what constitutes a “preponderance of evidence” is highly subjective, and secondly a “preponderance” of evidence does not equal a fact. The real fact is that the issue is in doubt and the ambiguity allows each side to make valid arguments one way or another. Contrary to Cernig’s assertion, stating that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons is not a lie since there is some evidence to support that contention and the ultimate truth is not certain. Accusations of lying imply an intent to deceive – it seems to me one making such accusations should at lead provide some evidence of intentional deception. In any event, even the IAEA agrees there is much ambiguity which is why it insists that Iran must ratify and implement the additional protocol, among other measures, to remove all ambiguity.

    Despite all this I am on record as an opponent of military action against Iran unless circumstances change. My analysis of Iran’s program indicates to me that Iran desires a short-notice nuclear weapons capability – not necessarily a nuclear weapons stockpile. They want a degree of ambiguity about their nuclear status as a deterrent – but not so much that it would put them in material breach of their NPT obligations. In short they want their cake and the ability to eat 90% of it too. I would be happy with such a status quo provided Iran ratified and implemented the AP and resolved ALL remaining IAEA issues.

    Oh, and on the subject of Fatwas, CKR is correct that no actual fatwa has been found. Even so, they they can be rescinded when expedient.

  • Interesting that this range of disagreement takes place among people who agree in opposing military action against Iran as things now stand.

    Iran’s nuclear weapons status is now like Saddam’s WMD status. Having played out the teaser this far, the leaders can’t retract it without a humiliating, and probably fatal, loss of face in their corner of the world and among their second-tier leadership. Which means their actions and statements likely will remain ambivalent for the foreseeable, which means those in the U.S. who seek a pretext for intervention based on reasonable doubt will always have ample material to work with.

  • Yes, Andy, those were my sources. Thanks.

    Cernig, I think we differ in that I think that intelligent people can differ on this subject based on how they weigh the various evidence. I gather that you don’t and consider the benignity of Iran’s nuclear development program as established fact.

    Once again, in digest form, here’s my reasoning:

    1. To the best of my knowledge the IAEA has never certified that Iran has no nuclear weapons development program.
    2. To the best of my knowledge the IAEA has never certified that Iran is living up to its obligations under the NPT and cooperating fully with the IAEA.
    3. The economic rationale for nuclear energy development in Iran’s does not hold water (see Andy’s citation).
    4. The energy self-sufficiency rationale for nuclear energy development in Iran’s case does not hold water.
    5. Iran has plenty of reasons to want nuclear weapons.
    6. The US, UK, Britain, France, Germany, and Russia are all concerned enough about Iran’s development program to bring the matter before the UNSC multiple times in the last year. I.e., it’s not just the Bush Administration.
    7. Virtually all of the counter-evidence is from the Iranian government.

    I also think that Cernig is interpreting the diplomatese from the IAEA somewhat differently than I am. I think they’re trying to encourage the Iranian government to be forthcoming not saying that they have been.

    As I see it the overwhelming preponderance of actual evidence is in the other direction. Is it possible that my tentative conclusion is wrong? Sure.

  • I also think he’s spending too much time reading LGF. Ought to come with a warning label that too much exposure can make you think like that in photonegative.

  • I don’t think it matters what we believe. I think it matters what Israel believes. If Israel believes that Iran will strike Israel with nuclear weapons, directly or indirectly, if it gets them, Israel will strike Iran preemptively. And since the only way for Israel to be certain, given their limited ability to reach Iran conventionally, is a nuclear strike, I believe that Israel would unleash their nuclear arsenal on Iran if they felt that Iran was going to get a weapon in the short term, or even the ability to build one. Iran has given Israel significant reason to believe both that they would strike Israel with nuclear weapons, even at the cost of their own destruction, and that they (the Iranians) are actively pursuing nuclear weapons.

    I would support military action against Iran (in a limited form), at such time as the Iranians get close to the capability to create a nuclear device per our best estimates, because the alternative would be worse. Of course, this would all be unnecessary if Iran would take a couple of very small steps (assuming they really aren’t looking for nuclear weapons): dismantle their internal enrichment facilities, and get their fuel from a combination of Russia and China and maybe even France, so as not to be at the mercy of any one country; and open up all of their nuclear facilities to inspection (my understanding is that at present only a few facilities are open to IAEA inspection). And of course, per Dave’s argument, they would also be a lot more credible if they were looking to improve their existing domestic energy sources from a production/waste perspective.

  • Andy and others, no country is going to entrust its energy security to others. Especially if that country has what it considers a history of betrayal and intimidation from other countries. So from that point of view, Iran’s desire for a full fuel cycle makes sense.

    Russia’s offer of enrichment services to Iran is probably not quite credible to Iran for this reason. Both Russia and the United States have proposed enrichment/reprocessing combines, but the fact that those organizations would be led by single not-entirely-disinterested countries makes them instantly incredible for energy security purposes.

    Plus that they were proposed shortly after Mohamed ElBaradei proposed a truly international fuel bank.

    IAEA inspection is important. It would certainly help if the US and other nuclear weapon states (particularly those outside the NPT: Israel, India and Pakistan) would open up some more.

  • no country is going to entrust its energy security to others.

    Cheryl, that’s wrong as a matter of simple fact. Most of the world’s countries entrust their energy security to others, the U. S. included. Further, that seems to me to be an argument in support of autarky, a known path to economic disaster. Precisely the same argument can be made about food, computer memories, and 10,000 other things manufactured, dug for, or grown.

    The follow-up question is, should the line of thinking be encouraged. I’d say we should encourage more interdependence not make excuses for less.

    I also think your description of the Russian-Iranian relationship is puzzling. Are we to take it that the Iranians trust the Russians enough to have Russian technicians working in Iran but not enough that they’ll accept nuclear fuel from them?

  • CKR,

    No doubt Iran has reason to distrust others, even leaving aside that a lot of this distrust stems from Iran’s own actions.

    Still, that argument does not have much credibility. For example, despite having ample fossil fuel resources, Iran is still dependent on imported fuel products, particularly gasoline, to the tune of $4-5 billion a year. The real energy crisis and shortage in Iran is not electricity, but gasoline. Riots erupted last year across the country when the government was forced to ration gasoline and lower subsidies. Instead of investing in refining infrastructure, Iran continues heavy investment in its nuclear program. Additionally, Iran does not have enough uranium reserves, so its nuclear program will still be dependent on others fuel cycle or no fuel cycle. Iran’s mines are currently unable to produce enough to keep Bushehr fueled to say nothing of any other reactors. So even in the case of electrical generation, Iran would be more “secure” using the resources it has plenty of domestically – natural gas.

    Given all these facts I don’t find Iran’s energy security arguments all that compelling.

  • Jeff, I’m not sure the Israelis will respond as you suggest. The most recent stuff in the Israeli press suggests that they’re trying to talk themselves into accepting the situation. I have no doubt that the Israelis dearly would like the U. S. to take this problem off their hands. As a matter of U. S. policy is that the right course?

    My point here is that Israeli interests and U. S. interests in the region are congruent but not identical. The old U. S. policy of trying to balance Shi’a Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia was, in my opinion, the correct one. As in so much that’s gone off the rails with U. S. foreign policy that was a call of the Carter Administration’s.

  • Thanks, Andy, I’d meant to mention that. I see no way to make the energy self-sufficiency dog hunt while Iran imports much of its gasoline.

  • I don’t care much one way or the other about Israel’s interests. I do care that Israel is a reasonably secular and liberal representative democracy, and we should be encouraging that. I don’t think, though, that just because it’s in Israel’s interests that we solve Iran for them, that we should do so. It may be in our interest to do so for other reasons, but for the sake of this argument, I am ignoring those, and only looking at the situation from the standpoint of what Israel would do to secure itself, and what that would do to US interests.

    If the Israelis can live with a nuclear Iran (a point on which I’m hardly convinced), then my point above is moot and we have to decide if we think Iran is crazy enough to use nuclear weapons against US cities directly or by proxy. My guess is that Iran is not that crazy, though they like to act like they are. So that brings up two subsidiary questions: would we respond to an Iranian nuclear attack on Israel, presuming they are that crazy (after 9/11, I take enemies at their word); and what do we do if Iran develops nuclear weapons, and then uses them as a bludgeon to control Persian Gulf oil supplies and shipping?

    Frankly, I think that Iran is intent on getting nuclear weapons, because it serves their interests to have them, and because if they were not intent on that, they could easily remove all doubt and suspicion while getting concessions from the West for doing what they want to do anyway. Given that, there are a lot of hard questions to answer, a couple of which I posed in the last paragraph. Here’s another: is it in our interest to prevent Iran from having nuclear weapons at all? I think that it is; I’m sure others disagree. And if it is in our interest to prevent Iran from having nuclear weapons, is there any way to prevent that other than war?

    What a lovely decade we’re having, eh?

  • So that brings up two subsidiary questions: would we respond to an Iranian nuclear attack on Israel, presuming they are that crazy (after 9/11, I take enemies at their word); and what do we do if Iran develops nuclear weapons, and then uses them as a bludgeon to control Persian Gulf oil supplies and shipping?

    Yes, I think that the Iranians are quite rational but engaging in some pretty serious brinksmanship.

  • Cernig

    Dave,

    I think you mischarecterize my position as being convinced of Iran’s good intentions on its nuclear program. If you note in my comment above I see definitive statements that Iran does or doesn’t have a nuclear program as equally false.

    However, I remain unconvinced of the good intentions and fair presentation of the evidence from the US, UK, France etc. (BTW, Putin is on record as saying he doesn’t believe Iran has a weapons program). Most of the accusations of hidden military efforts – over 50 specific items – passed to the IAEA by the West (mostly by US intel) over the past four years have been sourced from the MeK or Israel. All have proven, on investigation by the IAEA, to be false. To be honest, I’d rather trust independent experts like Dr. Jeffrey Lewis and Cheryl Rofer (Cheryl’s an ex-State expert in nuclear proliferation).

    Regards, C

    P.S. In your comment reply to Cheryl above, Dave, I think you’re conflating energy security and energy supply – the two aren’t quite the same. For instance, do you doubt that if the ME boycotted supplies to the US, the US could and would enforce or otherwise secure a supply – or that there are national security contingency plans for exactly that?

  • While the evidence that Iran had only peaceful intentions was always a little thin, it seems much thinner now.

  • hass

    Iran is quite willing to import its nuclear fuel – and in fact its Bushehr reactor is to be powered by imported fuel. However, wanting to protect your sovereign right to make your own fuel doesn’t necessarily mean that Iran is building nukes either. Note that even Cheney has accused the Russians of engaging in energy blackmail, and Iran can point to a long list of contracts that were not honored. Nor is Iran’s enrichment program particularly new – its foundations were laid at the time of the Shah.

  • hass

    Oh, and Iran’s economic case for having nuclear power is well established and recognized, and it is in fact buidling additional refineries however oil remains a finite resource, and Iran’s fields are well past their prime. To suggest that Iran must give up nuclear energy is ridiculous at a time when uranium prices have increase 10 fold because of a nuclear energy renaissance worldwide.

    Iran has never claimed it will be 100% self-sufficient in energy by relying on nuclear power – it has in fact planned to import most of its nuclear fuel, leaving a domestic enrichment program to make up for shortfalls and potential cutoffs.

  • Grizzleybill

    Iran, fom the record before us, does not have, nor will have the capability to produce neclear weapons in the next 2 years. Is that what the US concern is? I say no. The Bush administration has it’s eye on fuel resereves and the posssibility of controlling the vast oil in the middle east nations.We will soon see a “wage the dog” senerio from this current administration as it relates to Iran, and when it occures….may Yahweh help us all!

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