Hogan's Alley

Monday, April 17, 2006

Iranian President Claims Use Of Centrifuges Capable Of Producing Enriched Uranium Quickly

A new report in the NY Times quotes Iran's President and resident nut job, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, as claiming that Iran is now utilizing a centrifuge technology called "P-2" that would significantly advance the timetable for Iran to achieve enough nuclear material to make a bomb. The question that the IAEA and western intelligence agencies are trying to resolve is whether Ahmadinejad has slipped and let the cat out of the bag, or whether he is lying for strategic or internal political reasons. Iran has denied for the last several years that it has P-2 technology.

Since it is now known that Iran had dealings with A. Q. Khan, Pakistan's master exporter of nuclear technology who sold similar technology to Lybia and North Korea, Iran needs to explain why it alone declined to buy the best technology.

The Times article further points out:

Other pressing questions include Iran's reluctance to discuss a document found by inspectors — one that the Iranians were not willing to let the inspectors take out of the country — that sketches out how to shape uranium into perfect spheres, the tell-tale shape for a primitive weapon. Investigators say that document, too, appears to have come from the Khan network.

It is also unclear whether Dr. Khan sold the Iranians a complete Chinese-made bomb design similar to the one Libya turned over to the United States when it gave up its weapons program. Questions about other copies of the bomb design have been met with silence, in Iran and in Pakistan.

The Iranian program increasingly seems to walk like a duck and quack like a duck, yet claims to be a pussy cat. The only comfort one can take if the Iranians achieved a bomb is that its use against either the US or Israel would provoke nuclear retaliation that would destroy Iran. Rational governments would bdeterreded. But is Iran a rational government or is icontrolleded by those who believe the suicide of the entire Iranian people is required by their peculiar view of Islam? More problematic would be the delivery of a suitcase bomb in Israel or the west by agents. Would anyone be able to trace the origins of the bomb back to the Iraqis with a level of certainty that would justify the terribldestructionon of a nuclear retaliation? This is a very dangerous game of chance we are playing.

Juan Cole, perenial apologist for radical Islam, would have us believe that the Iranians would never use an atomic weapon because such use has been declared immoral by its "supreme jurisprutent"(sic), Ali Khemenei. Yet thArabicic translation website, Memri, has published a report by the reformist internet site, Rooz, quoting Iranian clerics:

"The spiritual leaders of the extremist [circles in Iran] have accepted the use of nuclear weapons as lawful in the eyes of shari'a. Mohsen Gharavian, a disciple of [Ayatollah] Mesbah Yazdi [who is Iranian President Ahmadinejad's spiritual mentor], has spoken for the first time of using nuclear weapons as a counter-measure. He stated that 'in terms of shari'a, it all depends on the goal.'
Cole's assertions are based on the presumption that his mullahs speak the definitive injunction of Shia Islam and that their dicta will be binding on the Iranian officials. I am less sanguine about their control over the behavior of the government since there are already public religious pronouncement to the contrary and because it is very unclear that the religious leaders are truly in control of the civil government. Further, for every Islamic cleric who has asserted that "ordinary" suicide bombing is against shari'a law there are several who have issued fatwas claiming that such actions are, in fact, demanded by the Koran. As we know, the later view has produced action for decades.