Friday, January 13, 2012

13-Jan-12: The unfolding nightmare in Iran

"Students" form a human chain in Tehran's Azadi Square
to demonstrate their support for Iran's nuclear programme
Olli Heinonen, a senior fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, is a former deputy director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, where he headed its Department of Safeguards. He published a thoughtful article in the current Foreign Policy magazine. Some extracts:
On Monday, Jan. 9, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) confirmed that Iran had begun producing 20 percent enriched uranium at Fordow, a fuel enrichment plant buried deep underground near the holy city of Qom... What has raised the world's suspicions is that Iran continues to produce 20 percent enriched uranium despite the fact that this exceeds its civilian needs and, as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad acknowledged in September, does not make economic sense...
How can Iran convince the international community that its nuclear program will follow a peaceful track? There are a few ways to go about it.
One way would be to suspend the production of enriched uranium and convert the existing 3.5 percent and 20 percent enriched uranium stocks, with the assistance of the international community, to fuel for the Tehran Research Reactor, as well as for another modern research reactor that could be provided to Iran. This approach would be good for Iran, as it would give the country a sustainable production of radioisotopes for industrial and medical uses in the shortest time.
Iran would also have to address the world's concerns about the military dimensions of its nuclear program, concerns laid out in the IAEA's most recent monitoring report. So far, Iran's leaders have failed to do so, despite being signatories to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. With sanctions beginning to bite, tensions growing in the Persian Gulf, and international patience running out, there's no time like the present.
The whole essay is here. Israelis are preoccupied with thoughts of Iranian extremism for numerous reasons, most of which are self-evident to people who read this blog.

Without endorsing or objecting to the thesis of their writers, we refer inquisitive blog-readers to two provocative and relevant articles that appeared in the past day. In "An informal addition to the laws of physics – don’t work for Iran" by Michael Burleigh in yesterday's Telegraph (UK), the writer points out to a mainly British readership: 
"In 1943 and 1944 the RAF and USAF carried out repeated strikes on the German V-2 rocket launch site at Peenemunde. They were not unduly concerned whether scientists and engineers were killed too, provided the V-2s ceased raining down on London."
And Jonathan S. Tobin writing in Commentary Magazine ("Killing Iranian Scientists is Not Terrorism") argues that:
"you need a particular form of moral myopia not to see that heading off a potential second Holocaust in the form of an Iranian nuclear attack on Israel or the nuclear blackmail of the rest of the Middle East is not a form of terrorism. Anyone who believes Iran should be allowed to proceed toward the building of a nuclear bomb has either lost their moral compass or is so steeped in the belief that American and Israeli interests are inherently unjustified they have reversed the moral equation in this case. Rather than the alleged U.S. and Israeli covert operators being called terrorists, it is the Iranian scientists who are the criminals. They must be stopped before they kill."
It's essential that cooler and smarter heads prevail before that happens.

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