IAEA: Iran Has Sufficient Gas for Weapon
By GEORGE JAHN, Associated Press Writer 2 hours, 19 minutes ago
Iran has pumped out about seven tons of the gas it needs for uranium enrichment since it restarted the process last month, the International Atomic Energy Agency reported Friday. A former U.N. nuclear inspector said that would be enough for an atomic weapon.
In unusually strong language, an IAEA report also said despite its investigation, questions remain about key aspects of Iran's 18 years of clandestine nuclear activity and that it still was unable "to conclude that there are no undeclared nuclear materials or activities in Iran."
"Iran's full transparency is indispensable and overdue," said the confidential document obtained by The Associated Press. The document listed perceived Iranian failings and called for "access to individuals, documentation related to procurement ... certain military-owned workshops and research and development locations."
Among the unanswered questions, according to the report, were gaps in the documented development of Iran's centrifuge program used in uranium enrichment — and in what was received, and when, from the black market network headed by the Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan.
Overall, the report confirmed recent revelations that most of the traces of weapons-grade uranium were imported to Iran on equipment from Pakistan that it bought on the black market — even though it said it was not possible to determine the origins of other traces enriched to less than weapons grade.
That finding hurts U.S. arguments that the traces were likely the result of enrichment done in Iran, as part of a secret program to make nuclear weapons.
Iranian state television quoted Iran's top nuclear negotiator Ali Larijani as saying the conclusion showed that the country's nuclear program is "completely peaceful and has never been diverted to illegal activities."
But the key issue in the report was uranium conversion — changing raw uranium into gas that then is spun by centrifuges into enriched uranium.
The report, prepared by IAEA chief Mohamed ElBaradei, said Iran had produced about 15,000 pounds of uranium hexafluoride, the gaseous feed stock that is spun by centrifuge into enriched uranium. Depending on the level of enrichment, that substance can be used either as a source of power or as the core of nuclear weapons.
But David Albright, a former IAEA nuclear inspector, said that were Tehran to use the material for weapons purposes, it would be enough for one atomic bomb.
The Iranian state television report did not quote or acknowledge the IAEA statements faulting Iran for a lack of transparency, but the newscaster quoted Larijani as saying some comments by ElBaradei were "non-legal" and were "made to lead to further bargaining" or "made under U.S. pressure." The newscaster did not say which remarks Larijani was referring to.
But "Iran will confine its cooperation with the IAEA to IAEA regulations and to defined international agreements," the newscaster quoted Larijani as saying.
After Iran resumed conversion last month, key European nations set a Sept. 3 deadline for Tehran to reimpose its freeze of the process or face the threat of referral to the U.N. Security Council — a warning most recently repeated last week by French President Jacques Chirac.
The 35-nation IAEA board meets Sept. 19 on Iran and will debate options that could include a U.S.-EU push for Security Council referral.
The Security Council, in turn, could impose sanctions — although members China and Russia are believed to oppose them. At a minimum, the issue would receive world attention if debated by the U.N.'s top body.
The document, prepared for that board meeting, did not report on Iran's conversion activities past the end of August, the time of the date of the last visit by IAEA inspectors to the central city of Isfahan, where the activities are taking place.
But with no word from Iran that it would cease conversion before the deadline Saturday, there was little hope that Tehran was interested in deflecting the threat.
The report said Iran has informed the IAEA that it would move its raw uranium feedstock into tunnels at the facility at Isfahan, which diplomats familiar with Iran's nuclear program say have been hardened against "bunker buster" bombs.
Tehran last month rejected economic and other incentives offered by Britain, France and Germany — negotiating on behalf of the EU — and resumed conversion, a prelude to enrichment.
Iran argues that it has a right to enrichment for peaceful purposes. The Europeans say Tehran broke its word by unilaterally resuming conversion while still negotiating with the Europeans on ways to reduce international suspicions about its nuclear agenda.
On the Net: http://www.iaea.org
this is no good. no good at all.
This part is particularly
What is also worrying... is that it only took Iran about 3 weeks to turn 7 ton's of UF4 into UF6 (the feedstock for enrichment). It still has 30 tons of UF4 left to convert. At this rate... in about four more months, it will have 5 weapons worth of feedstock.
The news just keeps getting better and better
Iran took Chinese beryllium for nuclear weapons
Iran obtained 20 kilograms (44 pounds) of beryllium for its nuclear weapons program from China last year, an Iranian opposition group claimed Thursday.
The National Council of Resistance of Iran did not identify the source of its claim, but it said the beryllium was imported by the Madj Gostar company, the AP reports.
"This company has its contacts and special channels for smuggling material into Iran. It brings this banned material from Dubai to Iran," said Hussein Abedini, member of the foreign affairs committee of the National Council of Resistance of Iran.
"According to reliable reports from inside Iran obtained by the Iranian resistance recently the clerical regime is trying vigorously to obtain beryllium metal to be used in its secret nuclear project," he said.
At a news conference in Paris in February, the group claimed it had evidence that Iran was acquiring beryllium as part of an effort to make detonators for nuclear devices.
ETA: from another article...
In London, the National Council of Resistance of Iran claimed Tehran obtained 44 pounds of beryllium from China last year. Beryllium can be used in the development of nuclear weapons, reducing by as much as a third the need for enriched uranium or plutonium.
There was no immediate comment from Iran's government. Officials at the IAEA, which is probing Iran's nuclear activities for possible signs of a weapons program, said they had no comment on the allegations.
But diplomats close to the agency and familiar with Iran's nuclear program said the IAEA appeared not to possess any evidence linking Iran to large-scale imports of beryllium. They spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity, saying the issue was confidential.
bump for the morning crowd
Timmerman uses a lot of what if's, undocumented sources and conspiracy theories. I thought he was really stretching it in his book.
bump for the night crew
bump for those that didn't see this.
Can anyone recommend other reading that may be more believable?
Lots of good info here:
That should get you started.... I have more if you would like.
So besides nothing what are we going to do.
Since they already have the fissile material (UF6 feedstock) needed to produce a bomb, it is assured their will have at least one nuclear weapon. The question is how much feedstock we will let them produce. The more feedstock they produce, the more weapons they can make.
If we want to prevent them from increasing their ability to make additional bombs... we should blow up the Uranium Conversion facility now!!!
However, we will let this go through the UN and wait a year or more before we even think about blowing that facility up. All the while the mullahs will be gathering more and more UF6 to turn into bombs. My guess is they will have about 20 nukes worth of UF6 before we do anything about it.
Iran nuclear weapons at least 5 years away -report
By Madeline Chambers 23 minutes ago
Iran, threatened with referral to the U.N. Security Council over its atomic ambitions, could develop bomb-making capability in as little as five years but a 15-year timeframe is more likely, a think tank said on Tuesday.
Iran resumed sensitive nuclear work last month, bringing two years of talks about its atomic program with the European Union trio of Britain, France and Germany close to collapse.
The United States and European Union suspect Iran wants to use a civilian nuclear program as a cover for developing atomic weapons, a charge Tehran denies.
"If Iran threw caution to the wind and sought a nuclear weapon capability as quickly as possible, without regard for international reaction, it might be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for a single nuclear weapon by the end of this decade," said John Chipman, director of London's International Institute for Strategic Studies.
He said technical problems could prolong the process and that given international pressure, the Islamic state was more likely to try to accumulate the capability over 10 to 15 years.
The evaluation by the influential think tank comes two weeks before the U.N. atomic watchdog (IAEA) will discuss whether to send Iran to the Security Council, possibly prompting sanctions.
The assessment is in line with British estimates, although U.S. intelligence reports have been more conservative, with a study last month putting the date for a bomb at 2015.
"Our assessment is technical," Gary Samore, editor of the IISS report, told reporters.
"The most interesting discussion is about political calculations and how Iran weighs the risks and benefits of acquiring nuclear weapons capability."
Samore said Iran appeared to be less worried about possible U.S. military action than two years ago, partly due to what he described as "the mess" in Iraq.
Washington has not ruled out using force to stop Iran's nuclear program although its main ally Britain has said such action would be inconceivable.
Samore said the think tank believed Washington would have a serious debate about military strikes if the Security Council failed to persuade Iran to freeze its program.
It is unclear whether the Europeans and the United States have sufficient support to reach consensus for Security Council referral at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Russia opposes the idea and China's intentions are unclear.
"I don't see any choice. Since Iran has broken the political deal it reached with the IAEA board of governors, I think the board has no choice but to send it to New York," Samore said, referring to the U.N.'s headquarters.
"Whether it is by consensus or by vote, either way it ends up in New York."
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Iran changes tack in nuclear standoff
A report on Iran's nuclear program found a 'lack of transparency' as well as 'good progress' on certain issues.
By Scott Peterson | Staff writer of The Christian Science Monitor
ISTANBUL, TURKEY – Iran's first fear about its controversial nuclear program has long been that it could provoke a US or Israeli military strike.
And a close second, until now, has been concern in Tehran that Iran could be referred to the United Nations Security Council for violations of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).
But even as Western diplomats begin to step up efforts to go after Iran at the UN - canvassing began in Vienna Monday, in the wake of the latest Iran report by the UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) - Iran appears to be changing tack.
Tehran is minimizing the risk of Security Council sanction, which in turn is undermining the carrot-and-stick approach used by the EU and Washington in recent years to convince Iran to end all nuclear efforts.
"To a certain extent, [Iranian officials] have lost their fear of the Security Council," says Davoud Hermidas Bavand, a professor of international law at Alameh University in Tehran. "Some even say that Iran should take the issue to the Security Council, against the IAEA," he says, because a technical issue has become "politicized."
Shortly after the hard-liner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was sworn in as president a month ago, Iran took a long-anticipated step of breaking IAEA seals at its Isfahan plant, ending a unilateral suspension of uranium-conversion activities.
The US says those activities - which the IAEA reports have converted seven tons of raw uranium into gas that can be enriched - are aimed at producing nuclear weapons. Iran denies the charge, saying it needs nuclear power, and that its right to master nuclear fuel technology is enshrined in the NPT.
The suspension was part of an earlier deal between Iran and Britain, France, and Germany, which sought to make it permanent in August by offering modest incentives. Iran rejected the proposal, which included no guarantees from the US of safety or waiving of current sanctions, prompting the Europeans to cancel meetings set for late August.
The confidential report, released Friday, found that 2-1/2 years of "intensive inspections and investigation" have not clarified outstanding issues, and that "Iran's full transparency is indispensable and overdue."
Still, the IAEA reported "good progress" in resolving a string of issues since 2003, and confirmed that traces of weapons-grade uranium found on centrifuge parts - held up by some US officials as evidence of a clandestine bomb effort - originated in Pakistan, as Iran has claimed.
Iran's new nuclear negotiator, Ali Larijani, said IAEA criticism was politically motivated, and that violations were "neither legal or technical."
"The tide of opinion in Tehran seems to have shifted," says Gary Samore, a nonproliferation official during the Clinton administration and vice president of the MacArthur Foundation in Chicago.
"Over the last two years, Iran's policy has been dominated by the desire to avoid referral to the Security Council, and Iran has been prepared to accept limits on its nuclear program in order to achieve that," says Mr. Samore, who is releasing an Iran dossier Tuesday under the auspices of the International Institute of Strategic Studies in London. "It does appear that Iran feels it's in a much stronger position."
High oil prices may give Tehran confidence that the council would not jeopardize the flow of Iran's petroleum into the market, says Samore. Other factors include American preoccupation with Iraq, and the decisive victory of Mr. Ahmadinejad at the polls last June.
Likely allies of Iran on the council include China and Russia, which is building a nuclear-power plant at Bushehr. Over the weekend, Russian officials made clear they saw "no reason" to send Iran to the council. Mr. Larijani is due to arrive in Pakistan Wednesday, after visits to China and India to galvanize non-Western support.
"The belief that [the US and EU] can weaken the will of this great nation with the baton of the Security Council is mistaken logic, and they are only losing their dignity," Larijani told Iranian state TV.
"Gone is the time when they could deny Iran its rights by threatening it," Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi, said on Sunday. "It is our legitimate right to have peaceful nuclear technology, and we will not give that up."
Europeans hope for a shift during talks between Ahmadinejad and other world leaders, including Russia, at the UN General Assembly in New York next week. The IAEA board of governors meets on Sept. 19 to consider the case.
"Ahmadinejad, and [Iran] in general, feels less threatened by the possibility of sanctions - they perceive they are stronger, and much more in control," says Hadi Semati, a political scientist from Tehran University, who is currently at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington. "Domestically in Iran, it's going to be very hard for anyone to come out and say: 'OK, we're going to get rid of our [nuclear] fuel cycle' to get a few promises. That is political suicide.
"They know the Europeans are terrified to take Iran to the Security Council, because then the question is: 'What next?' '' says Mr. Semati. And "down the line, [they feel] the US is bent on regime change anyway, even if it's not declared policy - so why bother?"
But such conclusions in Tehran are a high-stakes gamble, as is likely to be any Security Council response. Numerous safeguard violations over the past 20 years means that "until Iran restores confidence in its nuclear program, it should accept limits on activities that are dual use, and have military applications," says Samore. "There is a very strong legal case, [but] Council members are going to be very reluctant to impose significant sanctions on Iran."
A tough stance could prompt Iran to relaunch uranium enrichment, kick out inspectors, or - as some hard-liners have demanded - pull Iran out of the NPT.
"I think the council will react very cautiously, very incrementally," adds Samore. "It will take time, but there is no urgency. Iran is still a couple of years from having a nuclear-weapons capability, and there are some pretty significant technical problems."