Iran and the Bomb

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Officials in Western Europe and Israel told me what their governments had concluded about Iranian nuclear weapons. Although none knew of any specific evidence of an Iranian weapons program, all said that they believed that Iran was intent on getting the bomb——and quickly. Weaponization is only a part of the process, but there are other parts as well, including enrichment and the development of delivery systems.

Iran And the Bomb

Yet to the layman the N. Yes, it may very well be the case that there is no evidence of developing a nuclear weapon. To me, that is not the whole basis of making a judgment. The more important questions are: Is Iran behaving in a way that would be rational if they were not developing a nuclear weapon? And the answer on that is very clear—their behavior only makes sense if their goal is to have the bomb. And are they doing the other elements of developing a bomb? And they definitely are. It says nothing about their intention. Israel views Iran, which provides material and military support to Hezbollah, Hamas, and other such groups, as an existential threat.

Many of its generals and political leaders have insisted for decades that once the Iranian leadership acquired a bomb—an inevitability, in their view—they would use it against Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, despite the certainty of massive retaliation. Nevertheless, most Israeli military experts agree that Iran does not now have a nuclear weapon and fear regional proliferation more than they do attack. In January, Meir Dagan, the Mossad chief between and , marked his retirement by declaring that he did not believe Iran would become a nuclear power before The statement contradicted many previous Israeli estimates.

But, as a former senior adviser to a Labor Prime Minister of Israel told me, the extended timeline revolves, in part, around domestic politics. Dagan believed that Iran should be handled with covert action, not with a major bombing assault.

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Israeli fighter pilots have been training for years at the Hatzerim airbase, in the Negev, and at a foreign site, for a potential raid on known and suspected nuclear-weapons facilities in Iran. The political infighting in Israel over the Iranian threat continued in early May, when Ehud Barak, the Israeli Defense Minister, told the daily paper Haaretz that he did not believe that Iran would drop a nuclear bomb on Israel or any other country in the region.

He added, in a clear swipe at Netanyahu, that Israel should not spread public fear about the Iranian nuclear program. Early in the Obama Administration, Secretary of State Clinton provoked a brief diplomatic furor by raising the concept of an American nuclear deterrent to protect our allies in the Middle East. You do not have the right to have the full enrichment and reprocessing cycle under your control. A round of negotiations five months ago between Iran and the West, first in Geneva and then in Istanbul, yielded little progress.

He described other setbacks—to the shipping, banking, and transportation industries—all aimed at forcing Iran to return to negotiations. During the Cold War, Cuba was similarly confronted by American economic sanctions. Fifty years later, the boycott is still largely in place, and so is the regime.

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Meanwhile, the Iranian economy has been bolstered by booming trade with its neighbors and closer ties with Turkey and Syria. The economic and political ties with Turkey are especially significant, because Turkey has been vocal about its opposition to an Iranian bomb. The political stress between Washington and Tehran has promoted some unconventional thinking. A group of English diplomats and public officials have suggested thinking in terms of containing an Iranian bomb, and not in terms of getting rid of it. And the U.

I believe that the Iranians do understand the logic of nuclear deterrence, but the Israelis do not. The Brits are really concerned about the Israelis, and what they might do unilaterally. Pickering is a retired ambassador who, having served in Russia, India, Israel, Jordan, and elsewhere, ended his public career by serving for three and a half years as the Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs in the Clinton Administration.

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He has been active in many public organizations, including the American Iranian Council, which is devoted to the normalization of relations with Iran, and most recently he has been involved in secret, back-channel talks with Palestinian leaders, with Afghanis, and with some of the key advisers close to Ahmadinejad in Iran. In a recent interview, Pickering would not discuss the details of his contacts with Iran, but he did express cautious support for the findings of the N.

Even if the Iranians can be mechanical klutzes, we believe they can enrich uranium to ninety per cent. A critical element would be prohibiting the production of weapons-grade enriched uranium or reprocessed plutonium. Washington, the official involved said, would need to halt covert activities against the religious leadership in Tehran and provide evidence to indicate an official end to the operations. No two countries have more common interest in the futures of Afghanistan and Iraq.

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Iran and the Bomb

Moreover, Pakistan seems to have descended into a long period of turmoil and domestic strife, with threatening implications for both Tehran and Washington. Pickering and his colleagues have long sought a meeting with President Obama. Stop your covert activities. Instead, the Iranians see continued threats, sanctions, and covert operations. Mohamed ElBaradei, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient who is now a candidate for the Presidency of Egypt, spent twelve years as the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, retiring two years ago.

Wanna Bomb Iran? Here Are All of the Reasons It Could Backfire

For the past decade, he has been a central player in the dispute among America, Iran, and Israel over the bomb. Tehran is determined to be recognized as a regional power. The recognition, in their view, is intricately linked to the achievement of a grand bargain with the West. All I see is the hype about the threat posed by Iran. The first observed case was that of uranium, which split into barium and krypton. Neutrons are also emitted, and these can cause further fissions and, under the right circumstances, a chain reaction.

It is my belief that the Iranians have the design.

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But there are two reasons why I think they have the design. The first is the likelihood that they bought a design for a Chinese device from the Pakistani metallurgist and nuclear proliferator A. But the second reason is more important because it has larger implications. I use Pakistan as an example.

With fewer than six physicists and computer facilities that were inferior to what any high school student now has, the Pakistanis designed their nuclear weapons using open-source information. Iran has a very sophisticated nuclear program and I feel quite certain they have followed a similar path. This means, I believe, that if they ever had enough fissile material, they could produce a bomb in very short order.

Iran has an atomic bomb? they explained

There are two potential bomb fission materials: uranium and plutonium This is what makes a fission bomb work. For this reason, the entire issue boils down to the production of these isotopes. They require completely different production methods. Plutonium is produced in reactors; uranium is mined. I will deal with the plutonium first because it is in dealing with this issue that the JCPOA has been particularly successful. All reactors produce plutonium as a byproduct. The fuel elements are made predominantly with uranium and a small percentage of uranium , which is responsible for the fission.

If uranium absorbs a neutron, it can become uranium , which decays into neptunium , which in turn decays in the fissile isotope plutonium It is possible to design a reactor to maximize this sequence—and this is what the Iranians did. The reactor was located in Arak, an industrial city about miles south-west of Tehran. The Iranians never allowed consistent inspections of this installation, and they maintained the fiction that it was for producing medical isotopes—the kinds that are used in the treatment of cancer.

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The agreement is very clear about the disposition of this reactor:.