Is Iran Building Nukes?
There's no great shortage of blogging armchair Generals, calling for or supporting immediate military action against Iran, based on the assumption that that country seeks to acquire nuclear weapons capabilities. Some go further in stating that the regime probably already has some nukes.
This is of course complete and utterly dangerous nonsense. Even most US experts agree that Iran is at least 5 - 10 years away from obtaining such weapons, assuming the intention is there, which is squarely denied by the regime. The technical nature of the argument, regarding different types of reactors, different types of fissile material or what enrichment actually is, makes this fertile ground for oversimplification or downright misinformation by those who feel they need to support bombing Iranian nuclear facilities (or worse). The latter are either cynical or more likely, neither helped nor hindered by any real knowledge of the complexities involved in procuring nuclear weapons technology in general and specifically within the Iranian context.
Apart from the fact that IAEA's assessment (photo: Mohammad ElBaradei) indicates no evidence of such a nuclear weapons program exists today, there are other compelling factors to relegate the nuke theory to the dustbin.
Below I quote from an excellent article that demonstrates what a load of misconceptions there exist in the public mind regarding nuclear technology, weaponization of "plutonium" and such like. It further confirms to me that any kind of military action against Iran would be unnecessary, irresponsible, if not downright criminal.
President Bush declared on June 25 that "we will not tolerate" a nuclear armed Iran. His words are empty. The physical evidence for a nuclear weapons program in Iran simply does not exist.
Iran is building a 1,000-megawatt nuclear power plant in Bushehr with Russian help. The existence of the site is common knowledge. It has been under construction for more than three decades, since before the founding of the Islamic Republic in 1979.
Two other nuclear research facilities, now under development, have come to light: a uranium enrichment plant in the city of Natanz and a deuterium ("heavy water") facility in the city of Arak. Neither is in operation. The only question of interest is whether these facilities offer a plausible route to the manufacture of plutonium-based nuclear bombs, and the short answer is: They do not.
The Bushehr plant is only part of the argument that Iran is embarked on a nuclear weapons program, but it is the part that can readily be analyzed. State Department accusations of dangerous Iranian intentions for the Natanz and Arak facilities are based on a patchwork of untestable, murky assertions from dubious sources, including the People's Mujahedeen (Mujahedeen-e Khalq, MEK or MKO), which the United States identifies as a terrorist organization. These sources assert that there are centrifuges for enriching uranium (an alternative to fissile plutonium for bombs) or covert facilities for extracting plutonium. Neither of these claims are especially credible, since the sources are either unidentified or are the same channels which disseminated the stories about Iraq's non-conventional weapons or the so-called chemical and biological weapons plant in Khartoum. (Full article).
Keywords: Iran, NPT, nuclear, UN, Security Council