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.


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.

Unknown said...


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.