Monday, June 12, 2006

New concerns about Iran's secret nuclear program

United Nations inspectors are raising fresh concerns about a secret Iranian nuclear program.

Fresh evidence has emerged that Iran is working on a secret military project to develop nuclear weapons that has not been declared to United Nations inspectors responsible for monitoring Iran’s nuclear programme.

Nuclear experts working for the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna are pressing the Iranians to make a full disclosure about a network of research laboratories at a secret military base outside the capital Teheran.

The project is codenamed Zirzamin 27, and its purpose is to enable the Iranians to undertake uranium enrichment to military standard.

The evidence is not conclusive yet. But let's connect some dots.

Suspicions have been growing that Iran has a secret military nuclear research programme since UN inspectors discovered particles of enriched uranium at a research complex at Lavizan, a military base on the outskirts of Teheran, in 2003.

The Iranians agreed to allow IAEA inspectors to visit the Lavizan complex but then razed it to the ground before the inspectors arrived.

Gee, that's not suspicious at all. Next dot:

The Zirzamin 27 operation is thought to be being supervised by Iran’s Revolutionary Guards under the direction of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, the head of Iran’s Modern Defensive Readiness and Technology Centre, a top-secret military research site.

Why is this peaceful program being run by the military in a top-secret facility?

One more dot:

According to reports being studied by IAEA officials, scientists working at Zirzamin are required to wear standard military uniforms when entering and leaving the complex to give the impression they are involved in normal military activity. They are only allowed to change into protective clothing once inside the site.

Special attention has also been given to developing specialised ventilation systems to make sure no incriminating particles of radioactive material are allowed to escape.

A top-secret facility that is going to great lengths to hide what they're doing.

Why would Iran do that if their goal is the legal development of civilian nuclear power?

These allegations are as yet unproven, so don't jump to conclusions just yet. But the weight of evidence is against the Iranians. Their behavior simply doesn't square with their claims of peaceful and legitimate intentions.

Update: On the optimistic side of the ledger, Iran has formally accepted parts of a Western diplomatic offer. It was a very qualified acceptance, but depending on how the details shake out it could be the start of a productive agreement. The big questions will revolve around enrichment programs and fully revealing whatever secret efforts it is pursuing.

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Anonymous Clint said...

I think the current US strategy of preventive war inevitably leads to this type of behavior (trying to build nuclear weapons). Iran, seeing what happened to Iraq, knows the US can supersede international opinion and launch an attack based solely on suspicion of future danger. It only makes sense that they would want to obtain nukes - that would be quite a deterrent.

But, a basic question needs to be asked. Does Iran have the right to develop nuclear weapons? Who are we to say they can't?

6/12/2006 3:08 PM  
Blogger JP said...

Clint, I'm there with you--who are we to say they cannot, when we have them and are not afraid to use them? The answer is our unwavering support for Israel, justified or not. That and secondarily, Europe; thirdly, our control of the middle east.

Yes, I'm speculating. But it would be nice if reality would poke its head through the clouds every once in a while, and we could debate the truth. Personally, I'm skeptical of this "news" and of any news presented about our "enemies" these days.

I say the burden is on the US to prove the weapons program DOES exist, rather than on Iran to prove it does not. At least, considering how well we did diagnosing Iraq, that's what should be demanded of us.

6/12/2006 10:49 PM  
Blogger Sean Aqui said...

Clint, JP: I agree that we need to prove a secret program exists. But it's also incumbent upon Iran not to play games in that regard. Such game-playing helped build the case for invading Iraq; Iran should surely have absorbed that lesson.

As far as whether Iran has a "right" to build nukes, that's the wrong question. Every nation technically has the "right" to do whatever it wants -- it's called sovereignity. But when those actions impinge on other nations, those nations have a "right" to act to defend themselves. That's why the Israelis didn't wait until Iraq had nukes to bomb the Osirik reactor. That's why we had the Cuban Missile Crisis.

So you can argue that Iran has a "right" to build nukes. But I will argue right back that it is against our and the world's interests to let Iran have nukes. In that conflict of state interests, I side with the U.S. instead of Iran.

6/13/2006 11:17 AM  

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