(10 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)
The current case that Iran is developing enriched uranium for a bomb is hardly conclusive and the evidence is sketchy at best. There used to be but it was abandoned under international pressure in 2003. Former member of the IAEA’s Iraq Action Team in 2003 and nuclear engineer, Robert Kelley writes in Bloomberg News that the charges against Iran are no “slam dunk”:
(T)he issue is not whether there is evidence of such a program, but whether there is evidence that it was restarted after being shut down in 2003.
The Nov. 8, 2011, report of the IAEA, under the leadership of Director General Yukiya Amano, is long on the former and very short on the latter. In the 24-page document, intended for a restricted distribution but widely available on the Internet, all but three of the items that were offered as proof of a possible nuclear-arms program are either undated or refer to events before 2004. The agency spends about 96 percent of a 14- page annex reprising what was already known: that at one time there were military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program.
What about the three indications that the arms project may have been reactivated?
Two of the three are attributed only to two member states, so the sourcing is impossible to evaluate. In addition, their validity is called into question by the agency’s handling of the third piece of evidence.
That evidence, according to the IAEA, tells us Iran embarked on a four-year program, starting around 2006, to validate the design of a device to produce a burst of neutrons that could initiate a fission chain reaction. Though I cannot say for sure what source the agency is relying on, I can say for certain that this project was earlier at the center of what appeared to be a misinformation campaign.
In 2009, the IAEA received a two-page document, purporting to come from Iran, describing this same alleged work. Mohamed ElBaradei, who was then the agency’s director general, rejected the information because there was no chain of custody for the paper, no clear source, document markings, date of issue or anything else that could establish its authenticity. What’s more, the document contained style errors, suggesting the author was not a native Farsi speaker. It appeared to have been typed using an Arabic, rather than a Farsi, word-processing program. When ElBaradei put the document in the trash heap, the U.K.’s Times newspaper published it.
Appearing on “Face the Nation with Bob Scheiffer”, Secretary of Defense Robert Panetta let it slip that Iran is not trying to build nuclear weapons but is pursuing a “nuclear capability”:
“I think the pressure of the sanctions, the diplomatic pressures from everywhere, Europe, the United States, elsewhere, it’s working to put pressure on them,” Panetta explained on Sunday. “To make them understand that they cannot continue to do what they’re doing. Are they trying to develop a nuclear weapon? No. But we know that they’re trying to develop a nuclear capability, and that’s what concerns us. And our red line to Iran is, do not develop a nuclear weapon. That’s a red line for us.”
Republicans have been beating the drums of war in recent weeks as tensions in the Iranian gulf have soared. Iran has threatened to shut down the Strait of Hormuz, a key oil transport hub crucial to global industry, if U.S. warships return to monitor their activities. [..]
The International Atomic Energy Agency said late last year that Iran had carried out tests that suggested they may be taking the first steps toward building a nuclear weapon, but former agency insiders disputed the claim as being misleading.
Reality check. This is not, nor has it ever been, just about nuclear weapons. It’s also about oil and securing the strategic passage from the major oil fields that surround the Persian Gulf. Now closing the Strait of Hormuz is a “red line” that would provoke an American response, according to United States government officials.