Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Something's Up

It remains one of the essential questions in the Middle East: At what point--and under what circumstances--would the U.S. or Israel launch a preemptive strike against Iran's nuclear facilities?

Obviously, no one can answer that question (yet), but the potential for military action in 2007 is inching closer to reality. Over the past week, the chief of the Mossad has offered a much more definitive timeline for Iran to obtain the bomb, the U.S. has announced plans for a possible naval build-up in the Persian Gulf, and today, there's this tidbit from Ahmadinejad:

Iran now nuclear power.

The whack-job in chief was apparently referring to Iran "gaining access to the nuclear fuel cycle," whatever that means. Tehran started the process of uranium enrichment earlier this year, and recently expanded its centrifuge cascade, allowing it to produce more fuel. Ahmadinejad's comments could indicate that Iran is producing enriched uranium in higher quantities, or at a higher purity level. As we noted earlier this year, Tehran's initial enrichment efforts were probably sufficient for producing nuclear reactor fuel, but not for the short-term production of atomic bombs.

Has Iran achieved some sort of break-through that would nuclear weapons at an earlier date? At this point, no one is saying that on the record, but the convergence of these three "developments" seems to be more than a mere coincidence. Stay tuned.

As one of our readers once observed, "I can almost hear the whine of GE turbines in Knob Noster right now." If that reference seems a little obscure, look here.

7 comments:

jbrookins said...

I would seem something is up. Unfortunately it will probably be carried out by someone else.

RussInSoCal said...

All Air Force all the time. Sheesh! As a former ABF on CVN-69 - I'd bet the GE turbines will spin from the carriers. The Aegis ships would launch my first strike. I wouldn't send the B-2's this time.

..if they're asking (reading)

Themav1977 said...

Kind of off subject, but look forward to hearing about the recent news on Sandy (Burglar) Berger.

John (Useful Fools) said...

Why would Iran spend so much trouble enriching Uranium when Plutonium is much easier to get - especially by buying it from the Norks?

I think the whole enrichment exercise is either maskirovka or aimed at producing an independent fuel cycle for the easier to enrich reactor fuel - for reactors that make Plutonium.

If you want to put a nuke in a warhead, size dictates that it probably be an implosion nuke. Those are almost as hard to make out of highly enriched Uranium as from Plutonium, and HEU is very, very hard and expensive to produce. Note that the Nork nuke test was Plutonium.

So what do your spook instincts tell you about all this... are they really taking the hard road and building the huge centrifuge cascade needed to make U-238? If so, why?

btw, for misc information and good links on nuke technology, check out my page at http://www.tinyvital.com/Misc/nukes.htm

Spook86 said...

John:

To answer your question, it's basically because the plutonium/heavy water leg of their program is so far behind. Khondab/Arak won't be producing plutonium in sufficient quantities until sometime in the next decade. For a bomb short-term, enriched uranium provides the best option. If their program survives, plutonium offers another option for the bomb, and increased production/proliferation opportunities.

C-Low said...

I think the red line is fast approaching. That red line being the point were once crossed a strike on the Iranian nuclear capabilities will be unfeasible.

one word Basheur. When Basheur goes hot a strike on it would be a man made chernobly and there is no president going to sign off on such. You can't take down the Iranian program and leave it not to mention once it goes hot the centerfuges will be in the basement ala Isreal. Isreal waited till the last moment to hit the Iraqi reactor I expect we will do the same. This wont be done by Isreal they just don't have the juice to pull it off.

I have seen estimates that the Russian urnaium fuel to light up Basheur will be deliverd sometime March 07'. Funny seems to be right about the sametime our build up. Extra troops in case needed naval power to hold the surrounding oceans.

I had thought the LLL's had broken Bush but his last two press conferences has made me think otherwise. He has no regrets or will allow any such on Iraq phase 2 of the WOT so that tells me he understands that in war its all or nothing.

C-Low said...

I forgot to mention that the recent Bush wants to increase the total US military size both Army & Marine's that to me makes absolutley no sence if Bush was planning to pull out all forces from Iraq. If we were withdrawing the increase would be in replacement equipment not a bigger military needing even more equipment on top the worn out existing equipment. Bigger military spreads resources further degrading ability but getting size if were were pulling back to rebuild increase would just be as*backwards approach to refresh the force.

A bigger military is what is needed if you were say thinking of expanding our forward deployed forces for a elongated period of time. Like say if we bombed the brakes off Iran and/maybe Syria while jumping forces in Iraq to keep spill over at the border (and handle any iranian proxies aka Sadr from getting anywere in Iraq). Not to mention I would put high odds on our taking at a minimum the gulf islands and very likley some sizable chunks of SW / SE / NW Iran with direct action in that order of odds. These are already reblious regions that we could use and the SW section holds the Persian Gulf balls and the Iranian purse very very very strategic.