Iran and the Bomb 3

The International Atomic Energy Agency has written a report stating that Iran can now make the bomb and is now developing a missile delivery system.

VIENNA — Experts at the world’s top atomic watchdog are in agreement that Tehran has the ability to make a nuclear bomb and is on the way to developing a missile system able to carry an atomic warhead, according to a secret report seen by The Associated Press.The document drafted by senior officials at the International Atomic Energy Agency is the clearest indication yet that the agency’s leaders share Washington’s views on Iran’s weapon-making capabilities.It appears to be the so-called “secret annex” on Iran’s nuclear program that Washington says is being withheld by the IAEA’s chief.The document says Iran has “sufficient information” to build a bomb. It says Iran is likely to “overcome problems” on developing a delivery system.

A Daily Telegraph report has more:

Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the Supreme Leader of Iran, has always publicly denied any ambition to build a weapon. But the IAEA report says that he wanted to acquire nuclear weapons as long ago as 1984, when he served as president. He allegedly told a meeting of senior officials that a “nuclear arsenal would serve Iran as a deterrent in the hands of God’s soldiers”.

Emanuele Ottolenghi also writes in Standpoint about the Iranian nuclear programme and the West’s possible response:

The American report was a game changer. It declared that Tehran had “halted its nuclear weapons programme” in autumn 2003. It suggested that Iran had suspended its military programme “primarily in response to increasing international scrutiny and pressure resulting from exposure of Iran’s previously undeclared nuclear work.”

There were many caveats to this judgment, buried in the footnotes and intervening text, but the headline was that Iran no longer pursued nuclear weapons. The report undermined any residual credibility to the threat of US military action. Diplomacy was the only option left. George W. Bush endorsed it — and a new proposal was delivered to Iran with the signature of the Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, in June 2008. President Obama picked up where Bush left off, and made engagement with Iran a centrepiece of his new foreign policy. Then, recently, Obama’s Secretary of State Hillary Clinton offered a nuclear umbrella to US allies in the region, as if to suggest that the US was now resigned to a nuclear Iran.

The answer came recently, in two separate reports that were leaked to the press. Last March, a German intelligence report was submitted to Germany’s Constitutional Court to back the conviction of a German-Iranian businessman accused of supplying Iran with technology for its nuclear programme. The defence had cited the NIE to suggest that the transaction, which occurred in 2007, could not have been used to supply Iran’s military programme, given that the latter had been halted four years before. The court upheld the conviction based on the intelligence, which contradicted the NIE — the weapons programme, the German spies said, had never been suspended. A more recent report, published in July in The Times, cited Western intelligence sources as suggesting that Iran had indeed halted its weapons programme in 2003 but only because by then it had been successfully completed.

If the report is accurate, it answers the question the NIE did not address. Iran stopped its nuclear weaponisation programme in 2003 because its strides had far outpaced the enrichment programme. The decision to suspend had nothing to do with the invasion of Iraq or with the much-vaunted secret negotiations between the US and Iran that were ongoing in Paris at the time. It mattered little that IAEA inspectors had started snooping around the recently exposed nuclear installations. Rather, Iran had finished the weaponisation part of the programme before it had completed perfecting a delivery system and mastering the enrichment process.

Iran’s decisions have never been influenced by offers and incentives. The only thing that has ever mattered to Tehran was time. The only reason Iran might still be willing to negotiate is again time: if it still needs time to complete its goal of nuclear weapons capability. US engagement will not change this. Iran can build a bomb, has been busy building one and has never even considered changing its mind.

There are some analysts who believe that the theory of Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD) will prevent war between Israel and Iran. IMED believe this to be completely untrue. Iran’s autocratic regime is not rational, and the concept of self-destruction in the name of religious self-sacrifice is not just likely; it is expected. After all, praise and encouragement of suicide bombers is not an uncommon sight in Iran.

This excellent article by Shmuel Bar explains the need to negate the (apparently) comforting theory of MAD:

The countries of the Middle East will probably be more predisposed than the Cold War protagonists to brandish their nuclear weapons, not only rhetorically but through nuclear alerts or nuclear tests, leading to escalation. Once one country has taken such measures, the other nuclear countries of the region would probably feel forced to adopt defensive measures, leading to multilateral escalation. However, such multilateral escalation will not be mitigated by Cold War-type hotlines and means of signalling and none of the parties involved will have escalation dominance. This and the absence of a credible second-strike capability may well strengthen the tendency to opt for a first strike.

True, we may safely assume that the leaders and peoples of the Middle East have no desire to be the targets of nuclear blasts. However, the inherent instability of the region and its regimes, the difficulty in managing multilateral nuclear tensions, the weight of religious, emotional and internal pressures and the proclivity of many of the regimes in the region towards military adventurism and brinkmanship do not bode well for the future of this region once it enters the nuclear age.

For news on Iran and the nuclear programme, visit IMED’s blog – also look out for our campaign against the Iranian nuclear programme, coming soon in the UK.

In energy policy, ideology trumps common sense 0

 Two articles in Investor’s Business Daily show how wrong-headed the governing Democrats’ energy policy is:  

The first is about the inadequacy of wind and solar sources and their disproportionate costs:

Solar and wind together provide less than half of 1% of our electricity. Hydropower provides 7%, natural gas and nuclear about 20% each, and coal about half. Incredibly, a possible $50 billion in loan guarantees for nuclear power was stripped from the stimulus in the committee conference process.

Just how renewable are renewable sources of energy? Although silicon is the most abundant element in the Earth’s crust after oxygen, it makes relatively inefficient cells that struggle to compete with electricity generated from fossil fuels. Silicon solar cells convert only 25% of light energy received to electricity.

More advanced solar cells that can achieve efficiencies of 40% or more use the metal iridium. But it constitutes just 0.25 parts per million of the earth’s crust, and there’s only a 10-year supply left. Alternatives may be found, but that’s not solar power’s only problem.

Two projects in development will cover 12.5 square miles of central California with solar panels. At noon on a cloudless day they are designed to produce 800 megawatts of electricity, about as much as one large coal-fired plant. But actual production will likely be one-third that, and at uncompetitive rates.

The Energy Administration reported in early 2008 that government subsidies, before the stimulus bill, amounted to $24.34 per megawatt-hour (MWh) for solar and $23.37 per MWh for wind.

Continued subsidies for inefficient energy sources at the expense of reliable and abundant sources will only drive up energy costs and the national debt, while making it harder for the energy-starved American economy to recover.

The second explains how opposition to efficient and cost-effective nuclear power is based not on science but on prejudice:

During a campaign forum in Las Vegas last year, then-candidate Obama commented as follows on the site designed to safely store spent fuel from America’s 104 operating commercial nuclear reactors: "I will end the notion of Yucca Mountain because it has not been based on the sort of sound science that can assure the people of Nevada that they’re going to be safe."

Now-President Obama has kept his promise by virtually zeroing out Yucca’s budget in 2010, leaving only enough for the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to handle current licensing requests. House and Senate Democrats have already cut funding for the remainder of fiscal 2009 to a paltry $288 million, the lowest in recent years.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, who represents Nevada and is a longtime Yucca opponent, is ecstatic. The budget cut is "a critical first step toward fulfilling his promise to end the Yucca Mountain project," Reid said in a statement. "President Obama recognizes that the proposed dump threatens the health and safety of Nevadans and millions of Americans."

Yucca Mountain is not a "dump," and it is not unsafe. Situated about 100 miles northwest of Las Vegas, it is quite possibly the safest, most geologically stable and most studied place on the planet.

The Department of Energy has long studied the rock at the planned repository, assessing how the repository would perform over tens of thousands of years. After 20 years and $9 billion, DOE has found Yucca Mountain to be quite stable and safe.

The DOE Web site says that after two decades "of carefully planned and reviewed scientific fieldwork, the Department of Energy has found that a repository at Yucca Mountain brings together the location, natural barriers and design elements most likely to protect the health and safety of the public, including those Americans living in the immediate vicinity, now and long into the future."

Reid may not want it in his back yard, but he doesn’t mind keeping America’s nuclear waste where it is right now — in everybody else’s back yard. Vast numbers of spent nuclear fuel rods are now stored at more than 130 above-ground facilities in 39 states. About 161 million Americans live within 75 miles of these existing sites.

We need the jobs nuclear power can provide, and we need the energy. The Energy Information Agency projects that by 2030 U.S. electricity demand will increase by 45%. Since nuclear power currently supplies 20%, the U.S. will need to have 35 additional nuclear power plants just to meet future demand.

Nuclear power is "green" energy, and the jobs it creates and supports are "green" jobs. Had America’s nuclear reactors not been operating, about 48 million tons of sulfur dioxide, 19 million tons of nitrogen oxide and 8.7 trillion (with a "t") tons of carbon dioxide would have been emitted since 1995, according to the Nuclear Energy Institute.

The opposition to nuclear power in general and Yucca Mountain in particular is more ideological than scientific. References to storing "waste" at a "dump" are totally false. As we have noted, the French long ago achieved energy independence by relying on nuclear energy for most of their power needs. But they also lead the world in processing this "waste" to create even more energy.

Jack Spencer, research fellow for nuclear energy policy at the Thomas A. Rowe Institute for Economic Policy Studies, says the "waste" to be stored at Yucca has enough energy to power every U.S. household for a dozen years. Since beginning operations, France’s La Hague plant has safely processed more than 23,000 tons of used fuel — enough to power France for 14 years.

The U.S. pioneered the technology to recapture that energy decades ago, then banned its commercial use in 1977. An energy plan that does not involve continued and even increased use of nuclear power is no plan at all.

Posted under Commentary by Jillian Becker on Saturday, February 28, 2009

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Iranian bomb ready: reason for Biden’s warning about Obama 2

 From Debkafile:

US intelligence’s amended estimate, that Iran will be ready to build its first bomb just one month after the next US president is sworn in, is disclosed by DEBKAfile’s Washington sources as having been relayed as a guideline to the Middle East teams of both presidential candidates, Senators John McCain and Barack Obama. The information prompted the assertion by Democratic vice presidential nominee Joseph Biden in Seattle Sunday, Oct. 19: “It will not be six months before the world tests Barack Obama like they did John Kennedy.” (McCain retorted Tuesday, Oct. 21: “America does not need a president that needs to be tested. I’ve been tested. I was aboard the Enterprise off the coast of Cuba. I’ve been there.”)

Israel has (nearly) run out of time. 

Posted under Uncategorized by Jillian Becker on Tuesday, October 21, 2008

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Russian warships in the Caribbean 0

A hugely important development that the US media are so far ignoring  – because it would set back their passionate campaign to get Obama the Feeble elected? –  is reported by the London Times:

 Russia flexed its muscles in America’s backyard yesterday as it sent one of its largest warships to join military exercises in the Caribbean. The nuclear-powered flagship Peter the Great set off for Venezuela with the submarine destroyer Admiral Chabanenko and two support vessels in the first Russian naval mission in Latin America since the end of the Cold War.

“The St Andrew flag, the flag of the Russian Navy, is confidently returning to the world oceans,” Igor Dygalo, a spokesman for the Russian Navy, said. He declined to comment on Russian newspaper reports that nuclear submarines were also part of the expedition.

The voyage to join the Venezuelan Navy for manoeuvres came only days after Russian strategic nuclear bombers made their first visit to the country. Hugo Chávez, the President, said then that the arrival of the strike force was a warning to the US. The vehemently antiAmerican Venezuelan leader is due to visit Dmitri Medvedev, the Russian President, in Moscow this week as part of a tour that includes visits to Cuba and China.

Peter the Great is armed with 20 nuclear cruise missiles and up to 500 surface-to-air missiles, making it one of the most formidable warships in the world. The Kremlin has courted Venezuela and Cuba as tensions with the West soared over the proposed US missile shield in Eastern Europe and the Russian invasion of Georgia last month. Vladimir Putin, the Prime Minister, said recently that Russia should “restore its position in Cuba” – the nation where deployment of Soviet nuclear missiles in 1962 brought Russia and the United States to the brink of nuclear war.  

 

Posted under Uncategorized by Jillian Becker on Friday, September 26, 2008

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